Heart disease and cancer are familiar foes — whether through personal experience or secondhand, most people know these diseases frequently cause death.
However, there are other killers out there, diseases hidden by names you might not recognize. And, though most people in America die by disease, some people face completely different fates, such as car accidents, assault or suicide.
Using the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the experts at HealthGrove, a Graphiq data visualization site, examined the top 50 causes of death in America as of 2014.
The data show that the most likely causes of death vary greatly by age. People in their 70s are much more likely to die of a circulatory problems than people in their 20s. Conversely, 18 year olds are more likely to die because of an external cause than are 80 year olds. Though this might seem like common sense, the big, data-drawn picture is relatively new and very important.
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This growing pool of knowledge on diseases, life expectancies and population patterns not only helps educate individuals, but it can help guide policymakers with future legislation and allocation of resources. Understanding how these factors relate to each other on an epidemiological level is essential for informed decision-making.
Many countries face populations with rising proportions of older people. Since per capita health care costs increase with age, investing in scientific research for cheaper methods of detection and prevention of the most common diseases could lead to cost savings in the future. America, for example, has a proportionally larger population of seniors and a smaller population of working-age adults, which presents unique fiscal and scientific challenges. But by knowing what diseases are most likely to kill people at certain ages and how the population age is set to evolve, legislators can better prioritize funding.
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