Leading Causes of Death for 81-Year-Olds

As people age, their risk of developing chronic health conditions and life-threatening diseases increases. For 81-year-olds, the likelihood of experiencing a health crisis is higher than ever before. But what are the leading causes of death for this age group, and what can we do to prevent them? In this article, we’ll explore the most common and fatal health issues that affect 81-year-olds, from heart disease and cancer to respiratory illness and dementia. We’ll also provide tips for maintaining good health and reducing the risk of premature death. If you or a loved one is approaching their 81st birthday, then this article is a must-read. (Note: See here for 80-year-old causes of death or here for the most common causes of death for 82-year-olds.)

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Leading Causes of Death for 81-Year-Olds (2021 CDC Data)

Cause of DeathTotal Deaths
Heart Disease23,708
Cancer15,638
COVID-199,599
Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease4,726
Alzheimer’s Disease3,983
Diabetes2,408
Accidents (Incl. Overdoses)2,008
Parkinson’s Disease1,758
Kidney Disease1,564
Flu (Non-COVID)1,185
Septicemia1,035
Pneumonitis Due To Solids & Liquids591
Liver Disease (incl. Cirrhosis)484
Nutritional Deficiency478
Suicide278
Enterocolitis145
Anemias137
Gallbladder Disorder128
Peptic Ulcer111
Hernia43
Congenital Malformations29
Prostate Hyperplasia28

According to the 2021 data from the CDC, heart disease, cancer, and COVID-19 were the top three leading causes of death for 81-year-olds. Heart disease alone caused the death of 23,708 individuals in this age group, while cancer claimed the lives of 15,638.

Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and diabetes were also among the top causes of death, with 4,726, 3,983, and 2,408 individuals dying from these respective diseases. Accidents (including overdoses) caused the death of 2,008 81-year-olds, while Parkinson’s Disease was responsible for 1,758 deaths.

Other causes of death included kidney disease, flu (non-COVID), septicemia, pneumonitis due to solids and liquids, liver disease (including cirrhosis), and nutritional deficiency. Suicide, enterocolitis, anemias, gallbladder disorder, peptic ulcer, hernia, congenital malformations, and prostate hyperplasia were also among the causes of death for 81-year-olds, though at lower rates.

This data gives us a clear understanding of the diseases and medical conditions that are most likely to lead to death for 81-year-olds in the United States. It can serve as a reminder to individuals and healthcare providers to prioritize preventative care, early detection, and ongoing management of these diseases to help reduce mortality rates.

Top Causes of Death for Age 81 Men

Cause of DeathTotal Deaths
Heart Disease12,423
Cancer8,348
COVID-195,363
Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease2,205
Alzheimer’s Disease1,438
Diabetes1,314
Parkinson’s Disease1,108
Accidents (Incl. Overdoses)1,102
Kidney Disease832
Flu (Non-COVID)650
Septicemia502
Pneumonitis Due To Solids & Liquids361
Liver Disease (incl. Cirrhosis)248
Suicide238
Nutritional Deficiency203
Enterocolitis72
Anemias65
Gallbladder Disorder63
Peptic Ulcer54
Prostate Hyperplasia28

Looking at the data for 81-year-old men in 2021, heart disease was the leading cause of death, accounting for 12,423 deaths. Cancer was the second leading cause, with 8,348 deaths, followed by COVID-19, which caused 5,363 deaths. Chronic lower respiratory disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes were also prevalent causes of death, with 2,205, 1,438, and 1,314 deaths respectively.

Other significant causes of death for 81-year-old men included Parkinson’s disease, accidents (including overdoses), and kidney disease. Additionally, flu (non-COVID), septicemia, pneumonitis due to solids and liquids, liver disease (including cirrhosis), suicide, nutritional deficiency, enterocolitis, anemias, gallbladder disorder, peptic ulcer, and prostate hyperplasia were among the reported causes of death.

Overall, the data points to heart disease, cancer, and COVID-19 as the major contributors to mortality rates among 81-year-old men, although chronic lower respiratory disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes were also significant factors.

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Common Causes of Death for 81-Year-Old Women

Cause of DeathTotal Deaths
Heart Disease11,285
Cancer7,290
COVID-194,236
Alzheimer’s Disease2,545
Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease2,521
Diabetes1,094
Accidents (Incl. Overdoses)906
Kidney Disease732
Parkinson’s Disease650
Flu (Non-COVID)535
Septicemia533
Nutritional Deficiency275
Liver Disease (incl. Cirrhosis)236
Pneumonitis Due To Solids & Liquids230
Enterocolitis73
Anemias72
Gallbladder Disorder65
Peptic Ulcer57
Hernia43
Suicide40
Congenital Malformations29

Looking at the data for 81-year-old women, the leading causes of death were heart disease, cancer, and COVID-19. Heart disease accounted for 11,285 deaths, with cancer close behind at 7,290. COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death, responsible for 4,236 deaths in this age group.

Alzheimer’s disease, chronic lower respiratory disease, and diabetes were also prevalent causes of death for women, accounting for 2,545, 2,521, and 1,094 deaths, respectively. Other causes of death included accidents (including overdoses), kidney disease, Parkinson’s disease, flu (non-COVID), septicemia, and nutritional deficiency.

Liver disease (including cirrhosis), pneumonitis due to solids and liquids, enterocolitis, anemias, gallbladder disorder, peptic ulcer, hernia, suicide, and congenital malformations were also among the causes of death for 81-year-old women, but at lower rates.

Overall, the top causes of death for 81-year-old women were similar to those for 81-year-olds as a whole, with heart disease and cancer being the two most significant causes of mortality. COVID-19 was a specific factor that led to a large number of deaths in this older age group.