Published on: November 24, 2016
Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, has overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death in England and Wales, latest figures reveal.
Last year, more than 61,000 people died of dementia – 11.6% of all recorded deaths.
The Office for National Statistics says the change is largely due to an ageing population.
People are living for longer and deaths from some other causes, including heart disease, have gone down.
Also, doctors have got better at diagnosing dementia and the condition is now given more weight on death certificates.
Dementia is the leading cause of death for women; Heart disease still the leading cause of death for men.
The bulk of the dementia deaths seen were among women – 41,283, compared to 20,403 dementia deaths in men in 2015.
Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, accounted for 15.2% of all female deaths, up from 13.4% in 2014.
For men, however, heart disease remained the leading cause of death in 2015.
All types of cancer as a group was still the most common cause of death overall.
In the youngest age group, aged five to 19, suicide was the leading cause of death.
Among women aged 35 to 49, breast cancer was the biggest killer.
Hilary Evans of Alzheimer’s Research UK said: “These figures once again call attention to the uncomfortable reality that currently, no-one survives a diagnosis of dementia.
“Dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing, it’s caused by diseases that can be fought through research, and we must bring all our efforts to bear on what is now our greatest medical challenge.”
Martina Kane of the Alzheimer’s Society said: “It is essential that people have access to the right support and services to help them live well with dementia and that research into better care, treatments and eventually a cure remain high on the agenda.”
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