Top 10 Causes of Death in the U.S. and Apps That Can Make a Difference

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of fatalities in the year 2007 associated with the top 10 causes of death was 2,423,712.

Access to good healthcare is important, but there are things you can do on your own to improve your health, including proper rest, diet, and exercise.

ThumbsHeartAttackListed below are the top 10 causes of death followed by the number of deaths attributed to each in 2007. In each section, I mention some things you can do to control the problem, some apps for professionals, and some that can help at-risk individuals.

(Note: The full CDC report on the data collected in 2007 is available online at

1. Heart Disease (616,076 deaths)

StatCholesterolThe leading cause of heart disease is heart attacks. In general, you should have regular preventative exams that include a physical and a test to insure your cholesterol is in check. The more risk factors you can reduce, the better it will be for you. Therefore, stop smoking, lose weight, know your BMI, and keep it under 25.

The following are some educational apps that will increase your awareness about this number one cause of death in the U.S. These apps are for informational purposes only; seek the help of a medical professional if you have questions.

Heart Attack (left) (free, asks you a series of questions and based on your answers, tells you your risks for having a heart attack.

STAT Cholesterol (center) (free, is another app that will help calculate your cardiovascular risk.

HeartHealthHeart Health Guide (right) (free, discusses the most important topics associated with heart disease.

2. Cancer (562,875 deaths)

We all know or have heard of someone that has had cancer. Understanding is the key to dealing with this disease. Find out if certain cancers run in your family. Again (and I'll be repetitive about this), limit your risks. Most importantly, STOP SMOKING! In addition, you should self-screen for cancer. Men should do a monthly testicular test. Consider going to the following website for more information: For women, a monthly breast exam should be performed. Women may want to download an app called, Keep a Breast (free, CA123The following apps explain the different types of cancer and the medical terms used with them.

CA 123 (right) (free, is a news aggregator that includes the latest information about cancer and treatments. It includes links to videos.

LivestrongLivestrong English-Spanish Dictionary of Cancer Terms (left) (free, provides definitions for cancer-related terms in English and Spanish; it contains over 6,000 entries.

3. Stroke (135,952 deaths)

Stroke patients should understand the symptoms for a stroke and the absolute necessity for going to the emergency room when they have them. The key is education, and the following app does a good job explaining strokes and other neurological diseases.

Blausen Nervous Atlas ($4.99, is a more general application that explains neurological diseases, including strokes. BlausenNervBlausen also offers the Human Atlas Lite (, which includes, among other topics, a small educational video about stroke patients.

4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases (127,924 deaths)

The following are informational apps about different respiratory diseases.

BlausenRespBlausen Respiratory Atlas ($4.99, does an excellent job of explaining over 35 respiratory conditions and procedures; it also includes 3D animations.

Stat Asthma NHLBI Guidelines (free, helps classify the severity of and recommend treatment for asthma sufferers. This app is more oriented towards healthcare professionals.

5. Accidents (123,706 deaths)

As an ER doctor, I have seen my fair share of accidents. The best advice I can give is, use common sense and remember that life is too short. I have found the following apps useful.

iWreckediWrecked–Auto Accident Assistant (left) (free, provides quick access to the resources you might need in an accident, including an accident log, emergency numbers, one-press call buttons if you're injured, and more.

Pocket First Aid & CPR (right) ($3.99, is an excellent app that goes over child and infant CPR, child and infant choking, mouth-to-mouth CPR, hands-only CPR, and other first aid topics. As an ER doctor, I cannot overemphasize the importance of CPR—it can really make the difference in a critical patient.

6. Alzheimer's disease (74,632 deaths)

Alzheimer's is a slow, progressive disease—each day presents new challenges and new understandings. The demands on a caregiver of loved ones can be quite extensive. As patients with Alzheimer's develop new patterns of behavior, the task to understand this disease becomes a bigger challenge. Caregivers must juggle their emotions while trying to understand the changes in the patient's mental status as this disease progresses. This application will help you follow different symptoms that Alzheimer's patients display. These are covered in the iPhone app and allow family members to communicate this information to healthcare providers and other family members.

DementiaGuideDementiagde (free, helps track an individual's symptoms and gives you a way to communicate these symptoms to their physician.

7. Diabetes (71,382 deaths)

The challenge to those with this disease is to manage it proactively. The better you control diabetes, the better your health will be.

iBGStar Diabetic Manager (coming soon to the app store, will allow users to automatically download meter results and track glucose trends. The innovative iBGStar is the first available blood glucose meter that seamlessly connects to the Apple iPhone and iPod touch with the flexibility to manage your diabetes. This approach makes sense; you have your iPhone/iPod touch with you. Why not just carry a small adaptor instead of carrying another device? There are many current iPhone apps, but this is a prime example of future adaptations coming to the iPhone. This app will allow users to easily track trends on charts, keep logbooks, see averages, and display critical values. As a physician, I believe that patients will keep better track of their sugars and, as a result, increase compliance of their medications. This device will be available in 2011.

8. Influenza and Pneumonia (52,717 deaths)

swineFlu101The key to controlling these diseases is to identify high-risk patients that might die from pneumonia and influenza and make sure they get vaccinated. Those that are not at high risk should consider getting vaccinated anyway. The following apps provide more information about the diseases.

Swine Flu 101 (left) (free, provides information about swine flu, including signs and symptoms, prevention, treatments, maps of outbreaks, and more.

LungAndBreathingLung and Breathing (right) (free, covers a range of respiratory conditions and problems. It includes easy-to-read overviews, each of which has a "More Info" button that takes you to in-depth information.

9. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis (46,448 deaths)

While not as "glamorous" as some of the other diseases, kidney disease can lead to death if not treated. If you have it, or suspect you do, you should be under the care of a physician.

KidneyDiseasesKidney Diseases(free, provides information about the most important topics in kidney disease, including kidney stones, urinary tract infection, and more. It is suitable for professionals and laymen.

10. Septicemia (34,828 deaths)

PersiflagersGuideSepticemia is the presence of bacteria in the blood and is often associated with severe infections. This life-threatening infection can progress rapidly and, depending on the bacterial organism, more than 50 percent of people with this condition will die from it. Keep in mind that most healthy individuals with no risk factors tend to fight infections better, and as a result, the disease does not extend to this degree.

Infectious Disease Compendium: A Persiflager's Guide ($5.99, is a hyperlinked guide to infectious disease. It's designed more for healthcare professionals, but laypersons could also use it to find out more about a specific disease.

Live life to the fullest

To live a long and healthy life, we need to know the factors that can harm us and take steps to minimize their effects. Make sure you have a physical every year, find out what diseases run in your family, and reduce your stress. Most importantly, live life to the fullest.

These apps help you deal with the 10 top causes of death in the US.
January-February 2011
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