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According to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year nearly 900,000 Americans die prematurely from the five leading causes of death, yet 20-40 percent of these deaths could have been prevented. Let’s discuss preventable causes of death. 

The 5 leading causes of death in the United States

1. Heart Disease
2. Cancer
3. Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases
4. Stroke
5. Unintentional Injuries

Heart Disease
The term heart disease is used interchangeably with the term cardiovascular disease. Heart disease describes a range of conditions that affect the heart. Generally, these conditions involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels than can lead to a heart attack and/or stroke. Heart disease risks include tobacco use, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, poor diet, being overweight, and lack of physical activity.

Cancer refers to any one of a large number of diseases characterized by the development of abnormal cells that divide uncontrollably and have the ability to destroy normal body tissue. Cancer risks include tobacco use, poor diet, lack of physical activity, being overweight, sun exposure, certain hormones, alcohol, some viruses and bacteria, ionizing radiation, certain chemicals and other substances.

Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases
Chronic lower respiratory diseases are diseases that affect the lungs. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the two main illnesses that make up the most deadly of respiratory diseases which is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are also strongly associated with lung cancer. Risks include tobacco smoke, second-hand smoke exposure, other indoor air pollutants, outdoor air pollutants, allergens, and exposure to occupational agents.

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to your brain is interrupted or reduced, which can end up causing your brain cells to die by depriving the brain of oxygen and nutrients. A stroke may be caused by a blocked artery or bursting of a blood vessel. Stroke risks include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, being overweight, previous stroke, tobacco use, alcohol use, and lack of physical activity.

Unintentional Injuries
In 2015 alone, 146,571 Americans died from unintentional injuries. Accidental falls, motor vehicle accidents, and accidental poisonings made up over 75 percent of these deaths. Overall risks include lack of seatbelt use, lack of motorcycle helmet use, unsafe consumer products, drug and alcohol use (including prescription drug misuse), exposure to occupational hazards, and unsafe home and community environments.

» Learn more: Term Life Insurance FAQs: Health Conditions and Life Insurance

Your choices play a role in your life expectancy

Many of these deaths could have been avoided. A majority of the risks are influenced by lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and poor diet. You choose whether or not to participate in many of these risks.

By living a healthier lifestyle, you will feel better, look better, be a better role model, increase your chances of a longer life, and save money. By being healthy, you’ll have less doctor bills and you will have cheaper life insurance premiums.

By being healthy, you’ll have less doctor bills and you will have cheaper life insurance premiums.

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The previously mentioned 900,000 sudden deaths every year leave many families emotionally drained and with 3 in 10 American households having no life insurance coverage whatsoever, these deaths leave many families financially drained as well. Don’t be one of these statistics. Make a decision to get healthy and stay healthy for you and for your loved ones. Protect them with life insurance too.

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Photo credit to: Andrea Esuli


About the writer

Headshot of Natasha Cornelius, a life insurance writer, for Quotacy, Inc.

Natasha Cornelius, CLU

Senior Editor and Life Insurance Expert

Natasha Cornelius, CLU, is a writer, editor, and life insurance researcher for Quotacy.com where her goal is to make life insurance more transparent and easier to understand. She has been in the life insurance industry since 2010 and has been writing about life insurance since 2014. Natasha earned her Chartered Life Underwriter designation in 2022. She is also co-host of Quotacy’s YouTube series. Connect with her on LinkedIn.