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State of Alaska

Health Indicator Report of Leading Causes of Death

Death rates by leading cause of death show areas where health improvement and prevention programs should be targeted to reduce the number of deaths.

Notes

Ranks are based upon the number of deaths in Alaska and not the mortality rate per 100,000. Alaska populations are from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Data Sources

  • [http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/VitalStats/Pages/default.aspx Health Analytics and Vital Records Section (HAVRS)], Division of Public Health, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services
  • National Center for Health Statistics

Data Interpretation Issues

Results are ranked based upon the number of deaths. Using age-adjusted death rates can produce a slightly different ranking than that produced from death counts. Leading causes with less than 3 deaths are not reported. Rates based upon fewer than 20 occurrences are statistically unreliable and should be used with caution. Rates based upon fewer than 6 occurrences are not reported. Alaska populations are from the [http://laborstats.alaska.gov/pop/popest.htm Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Research and Analysis].

Definition

Death rates for the leading causes of death are the number of deaths from each cause per 100,000 population, age-adjusted to the U.S. 2000 standard population, and ranked according to the number of deaths.

Numerator

Number of deaths from the specified cause in the resident population in the reporting period.

Denominator

Mid-year resident population in reporting period.

Healthy People Objective: Reduce the overall cancer death rate

U.S. Target: 160.6 deaths per 100,000 population
State Target: Healthy Alaskans 2020 Target: 162.0 per 100,000 population

How Are We Doing?

In Alaska, cancer is the leading cause of death, resulting in it being chosen as one of the 25 Leading Health Indicators addressed by Healthy Alaskans 2020.^1^ There have been more cancer deaths annually in Alaska than the next most common cause of death, heart disease, since 1993 when cancer surpassed heart disease as the most common cause of death. Alaska was the first state for which this occurred, and currently almost half of the other United States (U.S.) states have more cancer deaths than deaths due to heart disease. The top 3 leading causes of death (cancer, heart disease, and unintentional injuries) account for a little over half (52%) of all deaths. Cancer by itself accounts for about a quarter (24%) of all Alaska deaths. Lung cancer mortality, strongly associated with tobacco use, is by far the most common type of cancer, accounting for about 28% of all cancer deaths. In 2015, the top ten leading causes of death claimed the lives of 3,146 Alaskans, comprising 72.8% of all deaths. Cancer continues to be the number one leading cause of death. In 2015, assault (homicide) replaced influenza and pneumonia as the tenth leading cause of death.^2^ Years of potential life lost is defined as the difference between the assumed life span of a "typical" person, and the actual age of death. Assuming that a typical person's lifespan is 75 years, the top ten leading causes of death were responsible for a total 43,792 years of potential life lost in 2015.^2^ [[br]] [[br]] ---- {{class .SmallerFont 1. Healthy Alaskans 2020. Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. [http://hss.state.ak.us/ha2020/default.htm] Accessed February 7, 2017. 2. Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health, Health Analytics and Vital Records Section. Alaska Vital Statistics 2015 Annual Report. [http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/VitalStats/Documents/PDFs/VitalStatistics_Annualreport_2015.pdf]. Accessed February 7, 2017. }}

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

Heart disease and cancer have been the leading causes of death for many decades, both in Alaska and in the U.S. nationwide.^3^ Over the last 40 years, heart disease mortality rates have been steadily declining.^4^ Cancer rates peaked in 1991 for the U.S. and Alaska peaked in 1993, and have been steadily declining since then in both areas. For the U.S., the rate for heart disease is now just slightly higher than for cancer and is projected to be less than cancer by about 2015. Heart disease mortality rates for Alaska have consistently been lower than those for the U.S. over the last 40 years. Cancer mortality rates for Alaska have tended to fluctuate relative to U.S. rates but have always followed the US trend. In 2013, U.S. and Alaska cancer mortality rates were almost the same, with the Alaska rate of 167.9 per 100,000 being only slightly higher than the U.S. rate of 163.2 per 100,000. The third leading cause of death in Alaska results from unintentional injury. Alaska's unintentional injury mortality rate of 52.4 per 100,000 is nearly a third higher than the U.S. rate of 39.4 per 100,000. Alaska had one of the highest suicide rates in the U.S. at 23.0 per 100,000 in 2012, nearly twice the national rate of 12.6 per 100,000. Alaska was surpassed only by Wyoming for suicide mortality rate in 2012.^5^[[br]] [[br]] ---- {{class .SmallerFont 3. Detailed Tables for the National Vital Statistics Report (NVSR) "Deaths: Final Data for 2013." [http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr64/nvsr64_02.pdf] 4. Deaths: Leading Causes for 2012. National Vital Statistics Reports. 64(10). August 3, 2015. [http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr64/nvsr64_10.pdf]. 5. QuickStats: Age-Adjusted Suicide Rates, by State - United States, 2012. MMWR. 63(45);1041-1041. [http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6345a10.htm] }}

What Is Being Done?

Healthy Alaskans 2020 has identified four mortality-related leading health priorities: a.) reduced Alaskan deaths from cancer (Leading Health Indicator (LHI) 1) , b.) reduce Alaskan deaths from suicide (LHI 2), c.) reduce the number of Alaskans experiencing alcohol and other drug dependence and abuse (i.e., alcohol-induced mortality) (LHI 14), and d.) reduce Alaskan deaths from unintentional injury (LHI 16). Other major risk factors for mortality are also addressed: tobacco use (LHI 4), overweight and obesity (LHI 4), physical activity (LHI 6), poor mental health (LHIs 8 and 9), and cost as a barrier to health care (LHI 23). See the Indicator Reports for the related Health Alaskans 2020 Leading Health Indictors for actions to reduce mortality.^1^[[br]] [[br]] 1. Healthy Alaskans 2020. Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. [http://hss.state.ak.us/ha2020/default.htm]

Evidence-based Practices

See the Indicator Reports for the related Health Alaskans 2020 Leading Health Indictors for evidenced-based practices.^1^[[br]] [[br]] 1. Healthy Alaskans 2020. Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. [http://hss.state.ak.us/ha2020/default.htm]
Page Content Updated On 07/26/2018, Published on 07/26/2018
The information provided above is from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services' Center for Health Data and Statistics, Alaska Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health (Ak-IBIS) web site (http://ibis.dhss.alaska.gov). The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Sat, 22 September 2018 from Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Center for Health Data and Statistics, Alaska Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health web site: http://ibis.dhss.alaska.gov ".

Content updated: Thu, 26 Jul 2018 14:21:19 AKDT
The information provided above is from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services' Center for Health Data and Statistics AK-IBIS web site (http://ibis.dhss.alaska.gov/). The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Sat, 22 September 2018 3:41:07 from Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Center for Health Data and Statistics, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: http://ibis.dhss.alaska.gov/ ".

Content updated: Thu, 26 Jul 2018 14:21:19 AKDT