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Leading causes of death are determined by measuring how many people die and what the cause of death is. Leading causes account for the highest numbers of deaths in a given population and time period. Leading cause of death rankings are based on the underlying cause of death. There are 50 rankable causes in the United States.
In 1951, the Public Health Conference on Records and Statistics recommended that state and federal agencies responsible for identifying diseases of public health importance adopt a uniform ranking procedure using a standard list of causes of death. The procedures implemented in 1952 are essentially the same as those currently used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics; however, the cause-of-death lists have been expanded and altered over time with each subsequent revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).1

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Content updated: Thu, 16 Feb 2023 08:44:06 MST