MONDAY, July 11, 2022 (HealthDay News) — From March 2020 to October 2021, COVID-19 was a top 5 cause of U.S. death in every age group 15 years and older, according to a research letter published online July 5 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Meredith S. Shiels, Ph.D., from the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland, and colleagues analyzed final national death certificate data for 2020 and provisional data for 2021 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine the five leading causes of death by year and age group.

The researchers found that from March 2020 to October 2021, heart disease (20.1 percent), cancer (17.5 percent), COVID-19 (12.2 percent), accidents (6.2 percent), and stroke (4.7 percent) were the most common causes of U.S. deaths. Accidents accounted for the largest number of deaths in every younger age group (1 to 44 years) in both time periods. Among those aged 35 to 44 years in 2021, COVID-19 became the second leading cause of death and became the fourth leading cause of death among those aged 25 to 34 years. Among people aged 85 years and older, COVID-19 was the second leading cause of death in 2020 but dropped to third in 2021. Among those aged 45 to 54 years, COVID-19 was the fourth leading cause of death in 2020, but in 2021, it was the leading cause of death.

“The increased ranking of COVID-19 as a leading cause of death in some age groups is consistent with a downward age shift in the distribution of COVID-19 deaths in the United States in 2021 compared with 2020, perhaps driven by higher COVID-19 vaccination rates in 2021 in the oldest age groups,” the authors write.

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