chapter  12
8 Pages

Causes of Death

How do people die? At the turn of the twentieth century, death was usually rapid and sudden, typically caused by acute infectious diseases such as typhoid fever, tuberculosis, malaria, diphtheria, streptococcal septicemia, and pneumonia. Now death most often follows a slow, progressive course, resulting from such chronic conditions as heart disease and cancer. Other causes of death in the United States are stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, homicide, suicide, accidents, war, natural disasters, and AIDS. The most common cause of death is heart disease. Accidents-specifically automobile accidents-are the fourth leading cause of death among Americans and the leading cause of death among persons age 34 and younger. AIDS is spreading into the United States heterosexual community in large numbers and now ranks eighth among the leading causes of death. The above statistics were taken from the U.S. Census data. In our society today, mortality rates are lower overall, average life expectancy is longer, people die mainly of degenerative rather than communicable diseases, and more people die in institutions than at home.