Erie Vital Signs

Chronic Disease and Disease Management: Leading Causes of Death

Recent Performance

This trend is better or improving.

The leading causes of death in Erie County mirror those of the state and nation. Heart disease and cancer claim the most lives each year and were responsible for 48% of Erie County resident deaths in 2012.

This indicator tracks all causes of death and three of the leading causes: heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Each is measured as an age-adjusted death rate per 100,000 population. In 2012, heart disease was the number one leading cause of death with a rate slightly above that of cancer.

Since 2000, the Erie County death rates for all causes, heart disease, cancer, and stroke declined by 7%, 28%, 8%, and 33%, respectively. However, the county still has room for improvement as our local rates are higher than the corresponding rates for Pennsylvania.

Note: Much of the data for the Health Indicators come from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Survey. Each metro area decides whether or not to participate each year, so these indicators often do not have data for every year for every metro area. As a result, the graphs show markers (dots, diamonds, etc.) for the individual years rather than lines. If there are data for consecutive years, the markers will be joined with a line on the graphs.

The Basics

This indicator reports the annual age-adjusted death rate per 100,000 population. (The age adjustment takes account of the fact that Erie’s population is a bit older than the U.S. average, and therefore might be expected to have higher death rates based solely on that fact.)

Why It's Important

Comparison of local and state causes of death tells us where the county has room for improvement.

The Details

“The Basics” tells the story.

The Nitty-Gritty Details


This EVS indicator reports the overall death rate as well as the death rates from heart disease, cancer and stroke. Additional Erie County Department of Health reports provide data for other leading causes of death, including Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases, Accidents, Alzheimer's Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Kidney Diseases, Influenza & Pneumonia, and Suicide. These are also disaggregated by gender and race.

Peer Areas

The data are available for Erie County and the state of Pennsylvania.


There are annual updates of this EVS indicator as well as three-year summary updates in Erie County Department of Health reports.


Other Related Data

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