U.S. death rate falls as COVID slips to 4th most common cause of death
Death rates in the U.S. dropped an estimated 5.3% in 2022 compared to the previous year as the overall number of COVID-19 deaths fell, according to provisional data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday.
Why it matters: Even though the data is incomplete and not yet finalized, the estimates provide an "early signal" about shifts in mortality trends, the CDC said.
- COVID-19 slipped from the top three causes of death and overall death rates fell, but cancer deaths and deaths from heart disease both rose last year, the data showed.
- Overall death rates as well as COVID-19-associated death rates were highest among non-Hispanic Black people and non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native people.
- The shift comes after consecutive drops in U.S. life expectancy during the pandemic.
By the numbers: About 3.3 million Americans died in 2022, down from 3.5 million deaths in 2021. The age-adjusted death rate was 832.8 deaths per 100,000 people in 2022, down 5.3% from 879.7 in 2021.
- Age-adjusted death rates dropped across all races but were lowest among multiracial people (394.2 per 100,000) and Asian people (447.2 per 100,000) and highest among Black people (1,028 per 100,000) and American Indian/Alaskan Native people (973.3 per 100,000).
- COVID-19 was the underlying cause or contributing cause in about 7.5% of deaths with a death rate of 61.3 deaths per 100,000 people in 2022, compared to a death rate of 115.6 per 100,000 people in 2021.
Between the lines: There's some concerning news here as well. Increases were seen in deaths from heart disease (699,659 in 2022, up from 659,547 in 2021) and cancer (607,790 in 2022, up from 605,213 in 2021).
- The third leading cause of death, unintentional injury, was largely driven by a high number of drug overdose deaths in 2022 amid the opioid epidemic.
- That's particularly alarming following data released this week showing the fentanyl-overdose death rate nearly quadrupled from 2016 to 2021.