COVID-19 was the United States’ fourth leading cause of death in 2022, reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Friday.

Among the report’s highlights:

  • In 2022, about 3,273,705 deaths occurred in the U.S.
  • The leading causes of death were heart disease, cancer and unintentional injuries.
  • The highest death rates were among American Indian, Alaska Native or Black males who were 85 or older.

The annual mortality statistics is collected by the National Center for Health Statistics’ National Vital Statistics System using death certificate data.

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Report details

According to the CDC, the estimated age-adjusted death rate for the U.S. population decreased 5.3% compared to 2021.

CNN said, “About 1 out of every 13 deaths in the US in 2022 was associated with COVID-19,” killing almost 245,000 people and being an underlying cause of death for about 187,000 others.

Farida Ahmad, the mortality surveillance lead for the national statistics agency and an author of the report, told CBS News the numbers are still a preliminary estimate, since it takes longer for death certificates from unintentional injuries — which can include suicides, homicides or drug-overdose deaths — to be completed.

When the agency publishes its final numbers for 2022 in December, Ahmad predicts only small changes will be seen, CBS News reported.

Mortality rates for both heart disease and cancer increased in 2022, CNN said. “Nearly 700,000 people died from heart disease, and about 608,000 people died from cancer,” the news outlet added.

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The report said while the overall death rate decreased, the cancer rate increased between 2021-2022, a trend that hasn’t occurred since 1999.

CNN said the pandemic could have contributed to the increase, since evidence from one study suggests people who have COVID-19 are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease for at least a year afterward.

Ahmad told CBS News, “If you’re, say, already trying to recover from an accident, or your body’s already dealing with a severe condition, and then you add COVID on top of that, that can make it that much harder for you to recover from what you were trying to recover from.”

The CDC report said the “data can guide public health policies and interventions aimed at reducing mortality directly or indirectly associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and among persons most affected, including persons who are older, male or from members of certain racial and ethnic minority groups.”