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In the United States, the leading causes of death are due to chronic diseases with heart disease and cancer accounting for almost 48% of all deaths. The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) receives certificates for all deaths occurring in the state and also for deaths to Ohio residents which occurred outside the state. Death certificates contain demographic, geographic, and cause-of-death information that are comparable to other counties and states.

Knowing the cause of death is a valuable tool for public health agencies. It allows them to measure and compare the impact of a disease within the population. With this information, prevention strategies can be implemented; new public health policies can be introduced; and health disparities within the community can be identified.