Dementia is now the most common cause of death in England and Wales, overtaking cardiovascular conditions, figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) have found.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s accounted for 11.6% of all deaths registered in 2015, with over a total of 61,686 people. Heart diseases were the second leading cause of death in England and Wales, with 11.5% of all deaths registered in 2015.
‘Some of the increase can be explained by a rise in diagnosis rates and a change in the way dementia is recorded on death certificates, offering a more accurate picture of the impact of dementia,’ said Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK. ‘With growing numbers of people living with dementia, we urgently need treatments that can stop or slow the diseases that drive this devastating condition.
Gender variations still occur in death rates. For males, heart disease is still the leading cause of death accounting for 14.3% of all male deaths in 2015, down from 14.8% in 2014. In comparison, the leading cause of death in women was dementia accounting for 15.2% of all female deaths, up from 13.4% in 2014.
‘Thanks to better treatments and prevention programmes, deaths from many other serious conditions have been steadily dropping: now we must do the same for dementia,’ said Ms Evans. ‘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.’