While cancer is the leading cause of premature mortality for African-American women, heart disease is a larger driver of disparity due to the much higher YPLL rate than non-Latina white women. The breakdown below looks quite different than the male version, primarily because of the reduced, but still significant, prevalence of homicide. It is also important to note that the magnitude of the overall YPLL disparity is much smaller for men than women, so while heart disease accounts for a larger portion of the overall disparity for women (27 percent vs. 21 percent for men), the magnitude of the heart disease disparity is smaller for women (736 YPLL vs. 1,038 for men). The largest contributors to the ‘other’ category of disparity are: congenital and chromosomal disorders; flu & pneumonia; and ill-defined/unknown cause of death.
Methodology note: Years of potential life lost (YPLL) is a widely used measure to assess the rate of premature mortality. YPLL places a larger weight on the deaths of younger people, in contrast with overall mortality statistics which are dominated by deaths of the elderly. The YPLL rates in Common Ground Health analyses are derived using 75 years as the baseline. A death at age 65 has YPLL of 10, where as a death at age 35 has a YPLL of 40. The rates are calculated per 100,000 population and are age-sex adjusted to account for differences in population distribution.