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Top 10 Causes of Death in the U.S.

While a few of the top 10 causes of death are impossible to control, many can be controlled by patients. Diet and exercise are a huge factor in contracting illnesses like heart disease or diabetes, and not smoking, managing your weight and your health care will all have a huge impact on the quality of your life.

Many of the causes of death on this list can be prevented through good primary care, avoiding situations that might cause accidents, and generally taking good care of yourself. If you start to come down with symptoms of any of these illnesses, call your doctor immediately, as catching them early can make the difference in how much they progress.


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  1. 1

    Heart Disease

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    Heart disease, including coronary heart disease, heart attack, congestive heart failure, and congenital heart disease, is the leading cause of death in the US, causing over 611,000 deaths in 2013 alone. Prevention includes quitting smoking, lowering cholesterol, controlling high blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising.
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    Cancer

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    Cancer caused nearly 585,000 deaths in the US in 2013. There are more than 100 types of cancer, and while research is ongoing into what causes them to develop, when they do, they can spread rapidly. Cells divide out of control and invade other cells, and this requires harsh treatment to stop.
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    Stroke

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    On average, every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke. Strokes are responsible for 6.7% of U.S. deaths each year, and are the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States. 25% of strokes occur in people under the age of 65, and the most important risk factor for stroke-high blood pressure.
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    Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases

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    Chronic lower respiratory diseases affect the lungs. they are responsible for 5.1% of U.S. deaths. The most deadly of these is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which makes it difficult to breathe. COPD includes conditions like emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking is the main cause of COPD. Smokers are 12 times as likely to die of COPD as those who have never smoked. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis also are strongly associated with lung cancer.
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    Accidents

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    Maybe surprising to some, accidents account for only 4.4% of deaths each year. The top types of accidents are motor vehicle traffic accidents, poisoning, and falls. Common-sense precautions, such as not drinking or texting and driving, can reduce these greatly.
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    Diabetes

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    Causing over 75,000 deaths annually, can have complications that include heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, neuropathy and amputation. Closely linked with obesity, Type 2 Diabetes can be controlled (and sometimes completely disappear) simply by getting control of your weight. 
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    Influenza and Pneumonia

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    Due to changes in the epidemiology of recognized respiratory pathogens, the increasing occurrence of drug-resistant microorganisms, and the detection of new respiratory pathogens, these relatively "regular"-sounding illnesses still kill 2.7% of Americans each year.
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    Alzheimer's Disease

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    Alzheimer's Disease, responsible for 2.4% of U.S. deaths each year, causes steady loss of memory and of the ability to speak, think, and carry on daily activities. While the Alzheimer's itself isn't fatal, death is usually caused by secondary infections in these incapacitated patients who can't participate in their own treatment and care. As the disease progresses, patients lose the ability to manage basic functions like swallowing, walking, or controlling bladder and bowel.
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    Kidney Disease

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    End-stage kidney disease occurs when the kidneys cannot function at a level needed for day-to-day life. It is responsible for 1.7% of American deaths each year. Patients who have reached this stage need either dialysis or a kidney transplant. The most common causes of end stage renal disease in the U.S. are diabetes and high blood pressure.
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    Blood Poisoning

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    Septicemia, or blood poisoning, is a life-threatening infection responsible for 1.7% of U.S. deaths each year. It can develop from infections anywhere in the body, like the lungs, abdomen, and urinary tract. It can accompany infections of the bone, central nervous system, heart, or other tissues. It often begins with elevated fevers, chills, rapid breathing and heart rate.

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