Age and Cause
Leading Causes of Preventable Death by Age
The average number of preventable deaths in 2021 across all ages was 2,240. However, this average is far exceeded during the prime of life, from 21 to 67. Because preventable injury deaths often occur to young healthy people, many victims never have a chance to graduate college and start their careers, while others leave behind young families.
For teens and young adults, this is driven largely by motor-vehicle crashes.
Poisoning was the leading cause of preventable death for all ages, combined, for the ninth consecutive year and was the leading cause of preventable death for every age from 22 to 68. This is largely due to the opioid epidemic affecting millions of people in the United States.
On a typical day in 2021, 208 people died from preventable poisonings due to opioid drugs, accounting for 75,785 deaths in 2021. An additional 4,626 people died in 2021 from intentional opioid overdoses or overdoses where the intent was undetermined.
Deaths fluctuate in the average range between ages 68 and 84 before briefly spiking again, driven by older adult falls.
- Data Table
Source: National Safety Council (NSC) analysis of National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) mortality data for 2021, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Rates are NSC estimates based on data from NCHS and the U.S. Census Bureau. See the Technical Appendix for the 10th revision of International Classification of Diseases codes for the leading causes and comparability with prior years.