According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, stroke has dropped one place in the top 10 leading causes of death in the US, becoming the fifth leading cause of death during 2013.

dictionary definition of strokeShare on Pinterest
In 2012, 36.9% of deaths in the US were caused by stroke, while in 2013, this dropped slightly to 36.2%.

Stroke has swapped positions with unintentional injuries in the list, which killed 1,579 more people than stroke in 2013.

However, there were no other changes in position between 2012 and 2013 in the list. Between them, the report says, these 10 causes accounted for 73.6% of all deaths in the US in 2013.

In 2012, 36.9 deaths per 100,000 in the standard population were caused by stroke, while in 2013, this dropped slightly to 36.2.

Although the death rate from heart disease also dropped slightly over the same period, heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the US, with cancer and chronic lower respiratory diseases in second and third place in the list, respectively.

Commenting on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, the American Heart Association (AHA) hypothesize that the drop in deaths from stroke is due to advances in the treatment and prevention of stroke. In particular, the AHA note, there are more stroke centers now operating across the US, and there has also been an improvement in acute care of stroke.

“However, although mortality from stroke is dropping,” says Dr. Ralph Sacco, past president of the AHA and chairman of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, “we know that the number of people having strokes in the US is rising each year due to the aging of our population and other signs that strokes have increased in younger groups.”

“Still, far too many people are still dying from stroke, and too many people are suffering greatly from this disease,” concurs AHA president Dr. Elliott Antman.

However, Dr. Antman says that the fact the death rate is declining is gratifying news, adding, “These statistics are a tribute to the many courageous survivors, health care professionals, researchers, volunteers and everyone else committed to fighting stroke.”

Stroke – which is more disabling than it is fatal – remains a leading cause of disability in the US. The AHA statement reminds that the number of people suffering from painful and debilitating after-effects of stroke remains a major cause of concern.

AHA CEO Nancy Brown summarizes:

There is a great deal to be done on behalf of stroke survivors, who very often face highly debilitating consequences in the aftermath of this severe cardiovascular event. We are committed to standing by their side as we continue striving for new breakthroughs in stroke prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.”

One recent advance in stroke research was the identification of a drug target for prevention of stroke-related brain damage. And in August, Medical News Today reported on a study of almost 34 million people who received Medicare Fee-For-Service between 1999 and 2011, which found that hospitalization rates for stroke declined by 33.6% during the study period, while risk of death reduced by 13%.