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What's killing Ohioans and residents in Cuyahoga County?

Posted by db last modified September 20, 2009

Several recent cause of death reports are available, but information collected from death certificates is questioned.

Several sources have reported causes of death for residents of Ohio, by county and for the City of Cleveland. The data are derived from death certificates and are collected by he Ohio Department of Health.

 Accuracy of death certificates questioned

There is some controversy as to the accuracy of the cause of death listed on death certificates. In some places, the legal authority completing the death certificate may not have a medical background.  And often times, even a physician of record must fill out the death certificate without the benefit of knowing the full the medical history of the decedent. 

When an autopsy is performed, the cause of death may be shown to be different than that listed on the death certificate, but the final autopsy report may follow the completion of the death certificate ny several weeks. According to Dr Frank Miller, Cuyahoga County Coroner, only about 1 in 11 deaths in the county have an autopsy performed. He states in an interview with WEWS-TV (in Cleveland) that many states and counties differ in their number of autopsies performed and in the qualifications of the person completing the death certificate. See http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32888822

Death certificate results

Given the imperfect data, death certificate reports are still the most widely available indicator of the current state of fatal illnesses and events. The Ohio Department of Health death certificate data and has reported on the leading causes of death for Cuyahoga County for 2005-07. Heart disease is the number one cause of death among residents in Cuyahoga County, as it is in Ohio and the US. ODH lists the top ten leading causes of death for Cuyahoga County for 2005 through 2007 as:

  1. Diseases of the Heart (12,882 deaths)
  2. Malignant Neoplasms (9,763)
  3. Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases (1,975 )
  4. Cerebrovascular Disease (2,049)
  5. Accidents, Unintentional Injuries (1,366)
  6. Diabetes Mellitus (1,164)
  7. Alzheimer’s Disease (1,198)
  8. Influenza and Pneumonia (644)
  9. Nephritis, Nephrotic Syndrome & Nephrosis (777 )
  10. Septicemia (611)

Other resources

Scripps-Howard news service has an interactive web site that allows users to find the leading causes of death for states and counties. Data for Cuyahoga County are available. Go to What is really killing America? for more information.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health has a report on leading causes of deaths for 2003-2005.

The Cleveland Department of Public Health has released data on leading causes of death on ClevelandHealth.info. The reports include mortality rates for Cleveland 2000-03, leading causes of death for Cleveland neighborhoods 2004-05, and local statistics from the Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office.




Keywords: Respiratory Diseases, State, Statistics

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