Women’s Health Dashboard

a woman at a laptop

The SWHR Women’s Health Dashboard offers a platform to explore the latest national and state data on diseases and health conditions that have significant impacts on women’s health across the lifespan – including public health data, research investment and progress, health insurance coverage, and relevant policy implications and actions. SWHR aims to bring attention to these issues, highlight current opportunities to address these disparities in women’s health, and track progress regarding science, education, and health care policy outcomes.

Leading Causes of Death in U.S. Females, 2018, by Age

For females ages 15-49, leadings causes of death were accidents, suicide, and breast cancer. For females ages 40-64, leading causes of death were ischemic heart disease, respiratory tract cancers, and breast cancer. For females ages 65 and older, leading causes of death were ischemic heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Note: Some disease names were abbreviated for readability (e.g., Breast cancer = Malignant neoplasms of the breast)
Source: CDC Wonder [1]

U.S. Leading Causes of Death, 2018, by Sex*

For individuals ages 15-49, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) led to the most disproportionate difference in deaths among females compared to males (2.3-fold). For individuals ages 50-64, COPD also showed a 1.5-fold difference in females compared to males. For individuals ages 65 and older, deaths due to Alzheimer’s disease were 2.1-fold higher in females compared to males.

*From the Top 10 Leading Causes of Death for U.S. Females in each age group, 2018, only the diseases that have a higher percentage of deaths for females compared to males are presented in the table.
Source: Source: CDC Wonder [1]

U.S. Leading Causes of DALYs, U.S. Females, 2018 – Top 10 Diseases per Age Group

The greatest disease burden, determined by disability-adjusted life years (DALY), for females ages 15-49 was depressive disorders. For females ages 50-64, ischemic heart disease had the highest DALY rate. For females ages 65 and older, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias had the highest DALY rate, followed by ischemic heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

*Category includes diseases with ICD-10 codes: N60-N64, N75-N76, N80-N96, N98
Note: Accidents (unintentional injuries, 1520) and Intentional injuries (1600, including self-harm and assault) have been omitted from this list.
Source: WHO Global Health Estimates [2]

Diseases that Significantly Impact Women’s Health, 2018

Five women’s health issues emerged as the focus areas of the Dashboard because they were the leading causes of death or disease burden for women, and/or they were the most disproportionate causes of death for women compared to men:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Breast Cancer
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  • Depressive Disorders
  • Ischemic Heart Disease

*Source: CDC Wonder [1]

**Source: WHO Global Health Estimates [2]

For each of the conditions featured in the Dashboard, the following information is highlighted:
  • Disease Burden, including economic burden and disparities among populations of women
  • Disease Prevalence & Mortality, stratified by sex, age, race/ethnicity, and/or geography based on data availability
  • Disease Impacts and Influences, including research investment, health disparities, and insurance coverage
  • Resources and References

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects memory, thinking, and behavior. Despite being the most common form of dementia, the cause of Alzheimer’s is not fully understood. In 2018, of the estimated 5.5 million people ages 65 and older with Alzheimer’s in the United States, two-thirds were women.

Learn More About Alzheimer’s Disease and Women’s Health

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a disease in which there is uncontrolled cell growth that has developed from breast tissue. As with other types of cancer, breast cancer is caused by genetic abnormalities or mutations in the genes which are responsible for regulating cell growth. In 2020, female breast cancer became the most commonly diagnosed cancer globally, accounting for 11.7% of all new cancer cases.

Learn More About Breast Cancer and Women’s Health

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a group of progressive lung diseases that cause damage to the lungs and airflow blockage, resulting in difficulty breathing. The inflammation and airway obstruction characterized in COPD often result from contributions from bronchitis and/or emphysema. In 2018, of the 17.5 million people with COPD in the United States, over 10 million were women.

Learn More About COPD and Women’s Health

Depressive Disorders

Depressive disorders are mood disorders which can affect a person’s thoughts, feelings, and ability to function. Depressive disorders include both major depressive disorder (clinical depression) and persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia), and can be caused by a multitude of factors including biology, environment, genetics, and psychology. In 2018, an estimated 9.6% of women in the United States reported that they were experiencing depression.

Learn More About Depression and Women’s Health

Ischemic Heart Disease

Ischemic heart disease (IHD), also known as coronary heart disease or coronary artery disease, refers to the reduced blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart that is often caused by plaque buildup in the surrounding arteries. The lack of oxygen and other key nutrients increases risk for a heart attack. In 2018, 4.6% of females in the United States were living with IHD, which was also the leading cause of death for both women and men.

Learn More About IHD and Women’s Health


[1] United States Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Underlying Cause of Death by Single Race 2018-2020 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released 2021. Data are compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Data for year 2018 are compiled from the Multiple Cause of Death File 2018, Series 20, No. 2X, 2020. Accessed at https://wonder.cdc.gov/controller/saved/D76/D282F137 Accessed 20 July 2022.

[2] Global Health Estimates 2020: Disease burden by Cause, Age, Sex, by Country and by Region, 2000-2019. Geneva, World Health Organization; 2020.

Partner with Us

SWHR will follow these and other emerging issues is women’s health in the future and continues to seek sponsors and health care stakeholders interested in supporting SWHR’s health equity, science, and policy work. Please reach out to the Development Team at development@swhr.org to learn more about partnering.