Dementia was the third leading cause of death in the UK last year according to a global study published in The Lancet.
The Global Burden of Disease Study, led by hundreds of researchers across the globe, set out to track national and global trends in causes of death over time. The research showed that 49,349 people died as a result of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia last year compared to 32,429 people in 1990. This is an increase of 52 per cent.
Matthew Norton, head of public affairs at Alzheimer's Research UK, said: 'This comprehensive study underlines the enormous scale of the challenge posed by dementia and the urgent need for action through investment in research. It's a success story of modern medicine that people are living longer, but we must ensure that people can continue to enjoy good health and quality of life in these extra years. Age is the biggest risk factor for dementia, and as life expectancy continues to improve worldwide, dementia is increasingly becoming our greatest medical challenge.'
Even though coronary heart disease was the leading cause of death in both 1990 and 2013 in the UK, the number of deaths per year fell by 45 per cent. The number of deaths from stroke, the second leading cause of death in both years, decreased by 25 per cent.
June Davison, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: 'It's good news that the number of lives being cut short by cardiovascular disease has fallen in the UK. Lifestyle improvements such as a reduction in smoking rates as well as advances in treatments are contributing factors to this downward turn. However, the fact remains that cardiovascular disease still kills more than one in four of us. These figures are a stark reminder that there is still a long way to go.'
The researchers also found that average life expectancy had increased from 65.3 years in 1990 to 71.5 years in 2013. The researchers estimate that if this trend continues global life expectancy will reach 85.3 years for women and 78.1 years for men.
The researchers looked at data from different countries from 1990 through to 2013.