Health United States 2020-2021

Cause-of-death ranking

Selected causes of death of public health and medical importance are compiled into tabulation lists and ranked according to the number of deaths assigned to these causes. The top-ranking causes determine the leading causes of death. Certain causes on the tabulation lists are not ranked if, for example, the category title represents a group title (such as “Major cardiovascular diseases” and “Symptoms, signs, and abnormal clinical and laboratory findings, not elsewhere classified”) or the category title begins with the words “Other” or “All other.” In addition, when one of the titles that represents a subtotal (such as “Malignant neoplasms”) is ranked, its component parts are not ranked. The tabulation lists used for ranking in the 10th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD–10) include the List of 113 Selected Causes of Death, which replaces the ICD–9 List of 72 Selected Causes, HIV Infection and Alzheimer’s Disease; and the ICD–10 List of 130 Selected Causes of Infant Death, which replaces the ICD–9 List of 60 Selected Causes of Infant Death and HIV Infection. Causes that are tied receive the same rank, and the next cause is assigned the rank it would have received had the higher-ranked causes not been tied, that is, a rank is skipped. For more information, see the annual series of “Deaths: Final Data” and “Deaths: Leading Causes” reports, available from: (Also see Sources and Definitions, International Classification of Diseases [ICD].)

Page last reviewed: August 12, 2022