These Risk Factors Are Most Likely to Kill You

Everyday we take risks with our lives, many that lead to serious health problems
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In the midst of a pandemic that is killing thousands of Americans, many people find themselves weighing the risks of what used to be day-to-day activities. The news is riddled with preliminary data on the virus, but not enough for scientists to be certain of who is more at risk to the disease, or even what the fatality rate of COVID-19 is.

We all take risks. These days, going to the market may feel like a risky venture. And while staying inside might be the smartest thing you can do right now, you may still be taking gambles with your health and your children’s health -- it’s these typical risk factors that take the lives of most Americans. Heart disease kills about 647,000 in the U.S. every year, according to the CDC, and about 80% of heart disease deaths are preventable, the American Heart Association says.

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of developing a disease. Some of the risk factors for heart disease, for example, include obesity, high blood pressure, smoking and certain dietary habits. Some risk factors you can control, such as diet or smoking, others may be genetic or age-related. 

These are the total annual number of deaths in the U.S. by risk factor, measured across all age groups and both sexes, according to Our World in Data, a project of the Global Change Data Lab. Data is from 2017, sourced from the Global Health Data Exchange. Click on the gallery to see them all.

Source: Our World in Data, CC BY 4.0