In 2002, there were over 1.2 million deaths among females. Of these deaths, more than half were attributed to diseases of the heart and malignant neoplasms (cancer). Heart disease represented 356,014 deaths (28.6 percent), while 268,503 (21.6 percent) were from cancer. The next two leading causes of death were cerebrovascular diseases (stroke), which accounted for 8.0 percent of all female deaths. This was followed by chronic lower respiratory diseases which accounted for 5.2 percent.

Crude death rates varied for women by race and ethnic group. For non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, and Hispanic women, the leading cause of death was heart disease, with 292.3, 211.6, and 69.7 deaths per 100,000 females, respectively. In contrast, among American Indian/Alaska Native and Asian/Pacific Islander women, the leading cause of death was malignant neoplasms, accounting for 71.0 and 72.6 deaths per 100,000 females, respectively.

Graph: Leading Causes of Death in Females[d]

Graph: Crude Death Rates from Selected Conditions for Females by Race and Ethnicity[d]