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CDC: COVID-19 was fourth leading cause of death in 2022

(Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

(CNN) — COVID-19 was the fourth leading cause of death in the United States in 2022, according to provisional data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It was the third leading cause of death in the first two years of the pandemic, but there were about half as many deaths from it in 2022 as there were the year before.

Despite the decline, about 1 out of every 13 deaths in the United States in 2022 was associated with COVID-19. The virus killed nearly 245,000 people in 2022, CDC data shows. It was an underlying cause of nearly 187,000 deaths and a contributor to about 58,000 more.

COVID-19 death rates declined for all racial and ethnic groups but remained highest among American Indian and Black people. Overall death rates were highest for these groups, too.

Unintentional injuries moved back to the third leading cause of death, as drug overdoses reached record levels.

Heart disease and cancer remained the top two leading causes of death, and rates for both increased in 2022. Nearly 700,000 people died from heart disease, and about 608,000 people died from cancer.

The pandemic may have contributed to this increase. One study, for example, found that people with COVID-19 are at an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases for at least a year after recovery.

Overall, the age-adjusted death rate in the United States declined about 5% from 2021 to 2022.

The death rate for children ages 1 to 4 rose nearly 8%. The COVID-19 death rate for this group did rise in 2022, but it was not a significant contributor to the overall death rate. The report did not fully explain what drove the overall increase for children ages 1 to 4.