Alzheimer's, Stroke and Heart Disease Death Rates Rise Slightly

woman in hospital
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The rates of death from a number of maladies, including heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer's, were higher in 2015 than in 2014, a new report finds.

The preliminary analysis of U.S. death records from October 2014 to September 2015 also shows that the overall death rate was higher than during the same period one year prior. There were 731 deaths per 100,000 people in the United States in the 2014-2015 period, compared to 720 deaths per 100,000 the year before, according to the report. The study was published online today (Feb. 24) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.

The report is part of the Vital Statistics Rapid Release program, which analyses the age-adjusted quarterly release of death records in the United States. However, the new report did not investigate the reasons behind the recent increases. [Extending Life: 7 Ways to Live Past 100]

Conditions with higher death rates in 2015 compared with the year before include the following:

  • Heart disease, which claimed 168 deaths per 100,000 people, compared to 166 deaths per 100,000 people the year before
  • Stroke, which caused 37.5 deaths per 100,000 people, up from 35.9 per 100,000 the year before
  • Alzheimer's disease, which took 28.9 lives per 100,000 people in 2015, compared with 24.2 per 100,000 people in 2014
  • Drug overdoses, which killed 14.8 per 100,000 people in 2015, compared with 14 per 100,000 the year before
  • Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, which together claimed 10.6 lives per 100,000 people in 2015, compared to 10.3 lives per 100,000 in 2014
  • Parkinson's disease, which caused 7.7 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015, compared with 7.3 per 100,000 years in 2014

However, the mortality rates from some other conditions saw improvements. For instance, there were about 159 cancer deaths per 100,00 people in 2015, compared with about 161 cancer deaths per 100,000 the year prior.

Other diseases stayed more or less the same, including diabetes, which had 21.2 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015, and 20.9 deaths per 100,000 people in 2014. Also, HIV went to 1.9 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015 from 2.0 per 100,000 deaths in 2014.

Homicides took 5.2 and 5.1 lives per 100,000 in 2015 and 2014, respectively.

Though 2015's death rates are higher than those of 2014, they're still lower than those of the 1970s. An October 2015 study showed that five of the six top causes of death in the United States, including stroke and cancer, had lower death rates for people younger than age 75 than they had in past decades.

Follow Laura Geggel on Twitter @LauraGeggel. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

Laura Geggel

Laura is the archaeology and Life's Little Mysteries editor at Live Science. She also reports on general science, including paleontology. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Scholastic, Popular Science and Spectrum, a site on autism research. She has won multiple awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association for her reporting at a weekly newspaper near Seattle. Laura holds a bachelor's degree in English literature and psychology from Washington University in St. Louis and a master's degree in science writing from NYU.