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Food-related choking deaths among the elderly

Abstract

During 2007–2010 in the USA, 2214 deaths among people aged ≥65 were attributed to choking on food. The death rate for this cause is higher among the elderly than among any other age group. Using data from the US National Vital Statistics System, we examined the relationship between food suffocation and other causes of death listed on the death certificate. Among decedents aged ≥65, the three most common additional conditions listed on the death certificate were heart disease, dementia and diabetes. However, after estimating the expected joint frequency of other causes based on the overall distribution of all causes of death, we find that three causes—dementia (including Alzheimer's disease), Parkinson's disease and pneumonitis—are most strongly associated with deaths from choking on food among older people.

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