NCHS - Potentially Excess Deaths from the Five Leading Causes of Death

  • cancer
  • chronic lower respiratory disease
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • unintentional injury

NCHS - Potentially Excess Deaths from the Five Leading Causes of Death

MMWR Surveillance Summary 66 (No. SS-1):1-8 found that nonmetropolitan areas have significant numbers of potentially excess deaths from the five leading causes of death. These figures accompany this report by presenting information on potentially excess deaths in nonmetropolitan and metropolitan areas at the state level. They also add additional years of data and options for selecting different age ranges and benchmarks.

Potentially excess deaths are defined in MMWR Surveillance Summary 66(No. SS-1):1-8 as deaths that exceed the numbers that would be expected if the death rates of states with the lowest rates (benchmarks) occurred across all states. They are calculated by subtracting expected deaths for specific benchmarks from observed deaths.

Not all potentially excess deaths can be prevented; some areas might have characteristics that predispose them to higher rates of death. However, many potentially excess deaths might represent deaths that could be prevented through improved public health programs that support healthier behaviors and neighborhoods or better access to health care services.

Mortality data for U.S. residents come from the National Vital Statistics System. Estimates based on fewer than 10 observed deaths are not shown and shaded yellow on the map.

Underlying cause of death is based on the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10)

Heart disease (I00-I09, I11, I13, and I20–I51)

Cancer (C00–C97)

Unintentional injury (V01–X59 and Y85–Y86)

Chronic lower respiratory disease (J40–J47)

Stroke (I60–I69)

Locality (nonmetropolitan vs. metropolitan) is based on the Office of Management and Budget’s 2013 county-based classification scheme.

Benchmarks are based on the three states with the lowest age and cause-specific mortality rates.

Potentially excess deaths for each state are calculated by subtracting deaths at the benchmark rates (expected deaths) from observed deaths.

Users can explore three benchmarks:

“2010 Fixed” is a fixed benchmark based on the best performing States in 2010.

“2005 Fixed” is a fixed benchmark based on the best performing States in 2005.

“Floating” is based on the best performing States in each year so change from year to year.


CDC/NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, mortality data (see; and CDC WONDER (see


  1. Moy E, Garcia MC, Bastian B, Rossen LM, Ingram DD, Faul M, Massetti GM, Thomas CC, Hong Y, Yoon PW, Iademarco MF. Leading Causes of Death in Nonmetropolitan and Metropolitan Areas – United States, 1999-2014. MMWR Surveillance Summary 2017; 66(No. SS-1):1-8.
  1. Garcia MC, Faul M, Massetti G, Thomas CC, Hong Y, Bauer UE, Iademarco MF. Reducing Potentially Excess Deaths from the Five Leading Causes of Death in the Rural United States. MMWR Surveillance Summary 2017; 66(No. SS-2):1–7.


NameSocrata field nameColumn name in sgr mountData typeDescription
Expected Deathsexpected_deathsexpected_deathsNumber
Observed Deathsobserved_deathsobserved_deathsNumber
Potentially Excess Deathspotentially_excess_deathspotentially_excess_deathsNumber
Percent Potentially Excess Deathspercent_potentially_excess_deathspercent_potentially_excess_deathsNumber
Age Rangeage_rangeage_rangeText
Cause of Deathcause_of_deathcause_of_deathText
State FIPS Codestate_fips_codestate_fips_codeText
HHS Regionhhs_regionhhs_regionNumber

Upstream Metadata