Los Angeles Almanac Logo
Home | All Almanac Topics | Vitals Statistics

Leading Causes of Death
Los Angeles County

By Year, 2012-2021

Image of Heart

Image by Sbtlneet via Pixabay.com


Also see: Leading Causes of Death in Los Angeles County by Sex, Race & Age


In order to compare "apples to apples" in collecting and coding cause-of-death data, categories used by the California Department of Public Health, reflected in the tables below, are defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as "the disease or injury which initiated the train of events leading directly to death, or the circumstances of the accident or violence which produced the fatal injury." The categories here reflect only the 14 leading causes of death during any year. What is not specifically reflected is the enormous number of deaths from the outlier COVID-19 virus, although, this can be seen in the dramatic increase in all deaths for 2020 and 2021. During 2020, Los Angeles County suffered 11,101 deaths related to COVID-19 (see breakdown for 2020), according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. In 2021, the county saw an even greater loss - more than 17,000 COVID-19 deaths. Numerically, that would rank COVID-19 as the county's leading cause of death during 2021, dethroning heart disease from its long reign as the county's number one killer.


Leading Causes of Death, Over Three-Year Period: 2018-2020

Ranked in order of age-adjusted death rate.

Cause of Death 2018-2020 Deaths (Total) 2018-2020 Deaths (Average) Crude Death Rate* Age-Adjusted Death Rate*
All Causes 210,430 70,143.3 686.9 601.3
Cancer (All Forms) 43,889 14,629.7 143.3 124.4
Coronary Heart Disease 34,651 11,550.3 113.1 96.6
Alzheimer’s Disease 13,537 4,512.3 44.2 37.9
Cerebrovascular Disease (Stroke) 11,591 3,863.7 37.8 32.9
Cause of Death 2018-2020 Deaths (Total) 2018-2020 Deaths (Average) Crude Death Rate* Age-Adjusted Death Rate*
Accidents (Unintentional Injuries) 9,493 3,164.3 31.0 29.5
Diabetes 9,208 3,069.3 30.1 26.1
Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease 8,957 2,985.7 29.2 25.4
Lung Cancer 7,283 2,427.7 23.8 20.6
Prostate Cancer 2,694 898.0 17.8 18.6
Cause of Death 2018-2020 Deaths (Total) 2018-2020 Deaths (Average) Crude Death Rate* Age-Adjusted Death Rate*
Female Breast Cancer 3,513 1,171.0 22.7 18.3
Influenza & Pneumonia 6,143 2,047.7 20.1 17.4
Drug Induced Deaths 4,465 1,488.3 14.6 14.1
Chronic Liver Disease & Cirrhosis 4,485 1,495.0 14.6 12.8
Colorectal Cancer 4,344 1,448.0 14.2 12.3
Cause of Death 2018-2020 Deaths (Total) 2018-2020 Deaths (Average) Crude Death Rate* Age-Adjusted Death Rate*
Motor Vehicle Traffic Crashes 2,643 881.0 8.6 8.3
Suicide 2,653 884.3 8.7 8.2
Deaths 2,253 751.0 7.4 7.3
Homicide 1,820 606.7 5.9 6.0

* The crude death rate is the total number of deaths divided by the total population and is expressed per 100,000 population. The age-adjusted death rate is the death rate that would occur per 100,000 population using the 2000 U.S. standard population.

Source: California Department of Public Health


Leading Causes of Death, Ranked by Year - 2017-2021

Number of Deaths. Percentage in parentheses reflect numerical increase (+) or decrease (-) for that cause-of-death over previous year.

Rank 2021 (Preliminary) 2020 2019 2018 2017
All Causes All causes
83,300 (+0.6%)
All causes
81,728 (+26.7%)
All causes
64,502 (+0.5%)
All causes
64,200 (+0.8%)
All causes
63,688 (+1.1%)
#1 Diseases of heart
17,146 (-7.2%)
Diseases of heart
18,216 (+9.6%)
Diseases of heart
16,616 (-0.6%)
Diseases of heart
16,720 (+1.4%)
Diseases of heart
16,489 (+1.0%)
#2 Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
14,479 (-2.8%)
Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
14,588 (-0.1%)
Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
14,603 (-0.6%)
Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
14,698 (+0.6%)
Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
14,604 (+0.7%)
#3 Alzheimer's disease
4,572 (-7.6%)
Alzheimer's disease
4,991 (+12.7%)
Alzheimer's disease
4,429 (+7.6%)
Alzheimer's disease
4,117 (-1.5%)
Alzheimer's disease
4,181 (+4.3%)
#4 Accidents (+unintentional injuries)
4,016 (-0.8%)
Cerebrovascular diseases
4,055 (+7.2%)
Cerebrovascular diseases
3,784 (+0.9%)
Cerebrovascular diseases
3,752 (-0.2%)
Cerebrovascular diseases
3,760 (+1.9%)
#5 Cerebrovascular diseases
4,001 (-0.9%)
Accidents (+unintentional injuries)
3,877 (+30.1%)
Accidents (+unintentional injuries)
2,979 (+13.0%)
Chronic lower respiratory diseases
3,088 (+0.1%)
Chronic lower respiratory diseases
3,084 (-0.9%)
#6 Diabetes mellitus
3,506 (-2.3%)
Diabetes mellitus
3,535 (+18.9%)
Diabetes mellitus
2,973 (+10.1%)
Diabetes mellitus
2,700 (+1.3%)
Diabetes mellitus
2,666 (+7.2%)
#7 Chronic lower respiratory diseases
2,602 (-13.1%)
Chronic lower respiratory diseases
2,940 (+0.4%)
Chronic lower respiratory diseases
2,929 (-5.1%)
Accidents (+unintentional injuries)
2,637 (+1.7%)
Accidents (+unintentional injuries)
2,593 (-1.2%)
#8 Chronic liver disease & cirrhosis
1,958 (-11.2%)
Influenza & pneumonia
2,147 (+18.4%)
Influenza & pneumonia
1,814 (-16.9%)
Influenza & pneumonia
2,182 (+11.3%)
Influenza & pneumonia
1,961 (-5.7%)
#9 Essential hypertension & hypertensive renal disease
1,838 (+3.8%)
Essential hypertension & hypertensive renal disease
1,760 (+14.6%)
Essential hypertension & hypertensive renal disease
1,536 (+2.7%)
Essential hypertension & hypertensive renal disease
1,495 (+6.1%)
Chronic liver disease & cirrhosis
1,421 (-1.9%)
#10 Influenza & pneumonia
1,769 (+3.9%)
Chronic liver disease & cirrhosis
1,615 (+13.7%)
Chronic liver disease & cirrhosis
1,421 (-1.9%)
Chronic liver disease & cirrhosis
1,449 (+2.0%)
Essential hypertension & hypertensive renal disease
1,409 (+8.8%)
#11 Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome & nephrosis
1,571 (+1.5%)
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome & nephrosis
1,524 (+12.5%)
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome & nephrosis
1,355 (-0.1%)
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome & nephrosis
1,356 (+2.0%)
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome & nephrosis
1,330 (+12.8%)
#12 Parkinson's disease
892 (-8.2%)
Parkinson's disease
972 (+10.8%)
Parkinson's disease
877 (+7.7%)
Intentional self-harm (+suicide)
940 (+5.9%)
Intentional self-harm (+suicide)
888 (+5.6%)
#13 Assault (homicide)
868 (+0.6%)
Intentional self-harm (+suicide)
849 (-1.7%)
Intentional self-harm (+suicide)
864 (-8.1%)
Parkinson's disease
814 (+2.8%)
Parkinson's disease
792 (+17.7%)
#14 Intentional self-harm (+suicide)
794 (+9.5%)
Assault (homicide)
706 (+34.2%)
Assault (homicide)
526 (-10.5%)
Assault (homicide)
588 (-4.4%)
Assault (homicide)
615 (-3.5%)

Source: California Department of Public Health

Leading Causes of Death, Ranked by Year - 2012-2016

Number of Deaths. Percentage in parentheses reflect numerical increase (+) or decrease (-) for that cause-of-death over previous year.

Rank 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
All Causes All causes
62,987 (+1.2%)
All causes
62,210 (+6.3%)
All causes
58,515 (-2.1%)
All causes
59,764 (+2.0%)
All causes
58,592 (+0.9%)
#1 Diseases of heart
16,332 (+0.3%)
Diseases of heart
16,287 (+5.8%)
Diseases of heart
15,394 (-4.8%)
Diseases of heart
16,167 (+2.2%)
Diseases of heart
15,814 (-2.5%)
#2 Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
14,498 (-0.3%)
Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
14,537 (+2.9%)
Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
14,128 (+1.7%)
Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
13,888 (-1.9%)
Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
14,164 (+1.6%)
#3 Alzheimer's disease
4,007 (+5.2%)
Alzheimer's disease
3,810 (+32.2%)
Cerebrovascular diseases
3,201 (-3.2%)
Cerebrovascular diseases
3,307 (-1.7%)
Cerebrovascular diseases
3,363 (+3.2%)
#4 Cerebrovascular diseases
3,689 (+0.0%)
Cerebrovascular diseases
3,690 (+15.3%)
Alzheimer's disease
2,883 (+11.8%)
Chronic lower respiratory diseases
2,988 (+8.4%)
Chronic lower respiratory diseases
2,757 (-8.6%)
#5 Chronic lower respiratory diseases
3,112 (+4.4%)
Chronic lower respiratory diseases
2,982 (+7.0%)
Chronic lower respiratory diseases
2,787 (-6.7%)
Alzheimer's disease
2,579 (+4.1%)
Alzheimer's disease
2,478 (+5.6%)
#6 Accidents (+unintentional injuries)
2,624 (+11.0%)
Diabetes mellitus
2,379 (+4.0%)
Diabetes mellitus
2,287 (+5.2%)
Influenza & pneumonia
2,266 (+2.9%)
Diabetes mellitus
2,203 (+0.4%)
#7 Diabetes mellitus
2,488 (+4.6%)
Accidents (+unintentional injuries)
2,365 (+7.0%)
Accidents (+unintentional injuries)
2,210 (+0.5%)
Accidents (+unintentional injuries)
2,198 (+7.0%)
Accidents (+unintentional injuries)
2,054 (-0.4%)
#8 Influenza & pneumonia
2,080 (-2.3%)
Influenza & pneumonia
2,128 (+3.3%)
Influenza & pneumonia
2,061 (-9.0%)
Diabetes mellitus
2,173 (+6.1%)
Influenza & pneumonia
2,048 (+10.3%)
#9 Chronic liver disease & cirrhosis
1,449 (-6.8%)
Chronic liver disease & cirrhosis
1,554 (+18.0%)
Chronic liver disease & cirrhosis
1,317 (-0.2%)
Chronic liver disease & cirrhosis
1,320 (+3.5%)
Chronic liver disease & cirrhosis
1,275 (+2.0%)
#10 Essential hypertension & hypertensive renal disease
1,295 (-2.6%)
Essential hypertension & hypertensive renal disease
1,329 (+16.1%)
Essential hypertension & hypertensive renal disease
1,145 (-4.4%)
Essential hypertension & hypertensive renal disease
1,198 (-3.7%)
Essential hypertension & hypertensive renal disease
1,244 (+17.8%)
#11 Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome & nephrosis
1,179 (-3.7%)
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome & nephrosis
1,224 (+23.8%)
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome & nephrosis
989 (+5.9%)
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome & nephrosis
934 (+4.9%)
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome & nephrosis
890 (+3.5%)
#12 Intentional self-harm (+suicide)
841 (+0.8%)
Intentional self-harm (+suicide)
834 (+3.6%)
Intentional self-harm (+suicide)
805 (+2.0%)
Intentional self-harm (+suicide)
789 (+4.0%)
Intentional self-harm (+suicide)
759 (-1.2%)
#13 Parkinson's disease
673 (-0.1%)
Parkinson's disease
674 (+12.9%)
Parkinson's disease
597 (+8.0%)
Assault (homicide)
586 (-2.0%)
Assault (homicide)
598 (-2.1%)
#14 Assault (homicide)
637 (+1.6%)
Assault (homicide)
627 (+15.0%)
Assault (homicide)
545 (-7.0%)
Parkinson's disease
553 (+8.9%)
Parkinson's disease
508 (-5.0%)

Source: California Department of Public Health