Since March 2020, the number of deaths from COVID-19 has been at the forefront due to the ongoing pandemic, and rightfully so. But I was curious about what the other leading causes of death are in Western New York. I took a look at the 8 counties considered to be WNY. I was initially thinking maybe drug overdoses or gun violence would make the list. But as you can see below, chronic diseases are really the leading causes of death. It's interesting that even though these counties are in the same region, the top 5 causes differ in many of the counties. The data is for all ages, races, and genders. I've also included the number of deaths for Buffalo and the rest of Erie Couty due to COVID-19. It's the most recent data available from the NY Department of Health.

Here are the top 5 causes of death in Buffalo and Erie County:

5. Unintentional Injury - 424 (40.7 per 100,000)

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4. Cerebrovascular Disease - 477 (35.4 per 100,000)

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons defines cerebrovascular disease as,

The term cerebrovascular disease includes all disorders in which an area of the brain is temporarily or permanently affected by ischemia or bleeding and one or more of the cerebral blood vessels are involved in the pathological process. Cerebrovascular disease includes stroke, carotid stenosis, vertebral stenosis and intracranial stenosis, aneurysms, and vascular malformations.

3. CLRD - 482 (36.5 per 100,000)

CLRD stands for chronic lower respiratory disease, which Very Well Health defines as,

a group of conditions that affect the lungs and are considered the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States.1 CLRD encompasses chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis; as well as asthma, pulmonary hypertension, and occupational lung diseases.

2. Cancer - 2,054 (160.6 per 100,000)

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1. Heart Disease - 2,387 (180.0 per 100,000)

COVID-19 Deaths - 2,261

Although the data is from 2018, it is the most recent available from the New York Department of Health. One thing is clear, although the #5 through # 3 causes of death vary by county, cancer, and heart disease remain consistent as the #2 and #1 causes. While there's no way to see where deaths from COVID-19 would rank officially, you can see that they will probably make the top 5 when the numbers for 2020 and 2021 are finally released.

Cause of death data provided by the New York Department of Health.
COVID-19 death data provided by the New York Department of Health as of January 6, 2022 (Deaths by county of residence, versus county of death)

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