Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease has overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death in England and Wales.
61,000 people died of dementia in the last year. That is 11.6 per cent (around one in eight) of all recorded deaths.
The latest figures come from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
Dementia is a condition caused by death of tissue in the brain. This results in symptoms that can include poor memory, confusion and speech difficulties. Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia.
Whilst heart disease is still the biggest killer in men, the recent rapid rise in deaths from dementia in women means that the brain condition is now the leading cause of death overall.
The ONS points out that as the average age of the population is rising, this is one of the factors in the rise in deaths linked with dementia. Dementia is also being diagnosed more often and its also more likely to be recognised as a cause of death these days.
Metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes have also been linked with dementia. The development of insulin resistance increases the risk of dementia.
As prevalence rates of type 2 diabetes have risen strongly over the last few decades, cases of dementia may follow suit in a delayed pattern. The delayed pattern is significant as dementia tend to occur at a later stage of life than type 2 diabetes.
Hilary Evans, Chief Executive 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.”

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