Most Common Natural Causes of Death

Published July 27, 2020
Man holding woman hand

Natural deaths occur due to internal ailments, medical conditions, and deterioration due to old age. Understanding the leading causes of natural deaths can help individuals take preventative measures.

Natural Causes of Death

A natural death can occur at any age if someone passes away due to a medical condition or disease. Examples of natural causes of death include:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Lower respiratory disease

What Does Death by Natural Causes Mean?

A natural death occurs when someone passes away by means other than an accident, suicide, or homicide. Natural deaths will vary in the level of pain depending on the particular illness or ailment.

What Do Most People Die From in the U.S.?

In the United States, the leading causes of death that fall under the natural death category are:

Risk factors for the top natural deaths include smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, genetic factors, and hypertension.

What Is the Most Common Cause of Natural Death Worldwide?

The three leading causes of death throughout the world include heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Death statics by cause:

  • Ischaemic heart disease and stroke accounted for a combined 15.2 million deaths in 2016
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease accounted for 3 million lives in just one year
  • Lung cancer, trachea and bronchus cancers led to 1.7 million deaths in one year
  • Diabetes led to 1.6 million deaths in 2016

Dying of Natural Causes in Sleep

In a study of 4,920 individuals with various diseases, there was a 60% rise in deaths between the hours of 2 and 8 in the morning. Specific diseases tended to peak at different times. Heart disease related deaths tended to occur around 8 am for men and women, hypertensive disease related deaths peaked at 1 am for women, and cerebrovascular disease related deaths peaked at 6 am for males. Common illnesses associated with passing away in your sleep include:

  • Cardiac arrest
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Sudden Unexplained Nocturnal Death Syndrome (SUNDS)
  • Obstructive sleep apnea

What Causes Death by Old Age?

Death by old age can be caused by an underlying condition that may be more common in those who are older. Others believe that death by old age refers to an individual who passes away for no reason other than their body has deteriorated over time and eventually ceases to function.

visiting an elderly male

Is it Possible to Die for No Reason?

It is not possible to die for no reason, however individuals can pass away suddenly and unexpectedly. Most commonly, this occurs when someone has a cardiac arrest due to arythmias.

What Are the 5 Manners of Death?

The manners of death refer to the categorization of the type of death someone experienced. A coroner or medical examiner is qualified to determine the manner of death. Any other certified individual may use the term "natural" death, otherwise the determination is referred to a medical examiner. The manners of death are:

  • Natural - For example, a death due to heart disease
  • Accident - For example, a death due to a fatal car accident
  • Homicide - For example, a death due to murder
  • Suicide - Death due to intentional self harm with the intent to die
  • Pending - Investigation of death is under way and not yet determined
  • Undetermined - Death by an unknown cause due to limited information

Unnatural Causes of Death

Unnatural causes of death are deaths that occur due to suicide, accident, or homicide. Individuals may pass away from the actual incident or the trauma associated with the incident.

Top Causes of Natural Death

Understanding natural causes of death can give you a better idea as to how many individuals pass away per year due to certain conditions or illnesses. If you are concerned about certain risk factors and/or have a family history of an illness or condition, reach out to your medical provider for more information.

Most Common Natural Causes of Death