Dementia is the leading cause of death for women in England and Wales, accounting for over 10 per cent of female deaths in 2013, a report by the Office of National Statistics has revealed.
The report, Deaths Registered in England and Wales 2013, showed that 31,850 women died as a result of the condition in 2013, over three times the number of deaths related to breast cancer. Dementia caused 12.2 per cent of female deaths in 2013, a 7.5 per cent rise from 4.7 per cent in 2003. The total number of deaths in England and Wales in 2013 was 506,790.
It has been suggested that awareness of dementia as a cause of death is the reason for the rise. A spokesperson from Dementia UK said: 'These new figures suggest a better awareness and understanding of dementia along with the impact of other comorbid conditions. It is important that dementia is recognised as a cause of death so that inequalities between men and women can be investigated and the full impact of the disease can be understood.'
Gavin Terry, Policy Manager at Alzheimer's Society said: 'With 225,000 people developing dementia every year and numbers set to soar, dementia is one of the biggest health and social care challenges the UK faces. For too long dementia has been wrongly seen by many clinicians as a natural part of ageing and, as such, they have failed to record it as a cause of death. Increasing awareness of the condition has started to combat this, and these figures are likely to be a product of that.'
Dementia was also the third biggest killer of men, with 15,262 deaths recorded, just under half the number of female deaths. Cardiovascular disease, the most common cause of death for men, was the cause of 37,797 deaths.
Commenting on the disparity of deaths between the genders, a spokesperson from the Alzheimer's Society said: 'We cannot say for definite why more women develop dementia in their lifetime than men. Researchers are investigating the role hormones may play as these undergo changes during the menopause. We also know that women live longer than men and age is the biggest risk factor for dementia.'
What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag