By: Oguz Barin and Tyler Curry

There are a lot of things that can be avoided in life – death is not one of them. Death is the unifying chord that links all life on this planet. And though some areas are more accommodating towards general health, the fact is that death will find you no matter where you live. Like an unwelcomed guest, you can’t avoid it. We will all inevitably die.

Using the Visart SaaS data visualization tool, we mapped out a few factors surrounding this topic to show which places in the United States face higher risks than others.

According to a 2011 report by the CDC, the #1 killer in the U.S. is heart diseases which caused 596,577 cases in total at a rate of 191.5 per 100,000 population. The age-adjusted rate was 173. Deaths caused by malignant neoplasms was the second highest, with 576, 691 cases at a rate of 185.1. The age-adjusted rate for this cause of death was 169.0. The lowest national cause of death reported was for HIV, with a total of 7,683 cases reported for 2011. The nationwide mortality rate for HIV was 2.5 with an age-adjusted rate of 2.4.

Below we can see age-adjusted mortality rates, calculated by applying age-specific death rates to the U.S. standard population, by state with a majority of states fitting into the above average bracket:

What Maps 1

Looking at age-adjusted causes of death state by state, we can see that heart diseases are most frequent in Mississippi, Oklahoma and Alabama:

What Maps 2

According to the same map, the most common cause of death in the United States is least likely to occur in Colorado and Minnesota.

Another cause of death that gets a lot of attention is cancer. So how does it vary across the states?

Kentucky and West Virginia have the country’s highest cancer rates. Interestingly, Utah has the lowest:

What Maps 3

Aside from cancer, West Virginia also leads the nation in deaths caused by accidents and respiratory diseases. In 2011, the CDC reported that West Virginia had an accidental death rate of 77.2 with an age-adjusted rate of 74.8. For chronic lower respiratory diseases, West Virginia had the highest rate in the country with 84.7 and an age-adjusted rate of 66.1:

What Maps 4

What Maps 5

In the South, we can see a significantly higher number of cerebrovascular disease deaths than in the rest of the country. According to the CDC report, there were 128, 932 of these deaths across the country. Despite its medium percentages, California had the highest number of cerebrovascular deaths with 13,503 reported fatalities. Arkansas had the highest rate of mortalities with 57.6 and the highest age-adjusted rate with 50.6:

What Maps 6
If looking at this cause of death by race, African Americans are more prone to die from cerebrovascular diseases than other races. Caucasian Americans are most likely die from chronic lower respiratory diseases. American Indians or Alaskan Natives have the highest rate of accident-related deaths. Heart diseases and malignant neoplasms are the most common fatalities among all the races.

What Maps 7

On the other hand, if we look at the diseases from a gendered vantage point, we can see that cerebrovascular diseases are nearly equal among men and women. While men have a rate of 37.9, women fall slightly behind with a rate of 37.2. Men generally have higher rates of death in all categories, but the most significant difference is in accidents, where men have an average rate of 52.8 while women only have a rate of 26.5. The only cause of death where women rank higher than men – with a slight margin – is Alzheimer’s disease:

What Maps 8

Out of all the demographic factors, it would appear that age makes a big difference in mortality rates, though some of the rates are predictable. It probably isn’t surprising that deaths stemming from the perinatal period and congenital deformations are the leading cause in people under the age of 1:

What Maps 9

Accidents are the most common cause of death from age 15 to age 44:

What Maps 10
Between ages 35 and 44, the leading national causes of death are reflected with rates of 26.0 for heart diseases and 29.0 for malignant neoplasms. The two leading mortality rates continue from ages 65 to 85, with heart disease rates getting progressively higher with age:

What Maps 11

What Maps 12

Data Source: