Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias were the leading cause of death for women in England and Wales in 2014, and the second leading cause of death for men.
New figures published in a report by the Office for National Statistics show that dementia accounted for 13.4% of all female deaths in 2014 and 7% of all male deaths.
“Advances in medicine have helped reduce the impact of conditions like heart disease; now we must see the same to happen for dementia”
A total of 51,498 deaths were caused by the condition, with 34,321 of these recorded among women.
The leading cause of death for males in 2014 was ischaemic heart diseases, which accounted for 14.8% of male deaths.
Deaths from Alzheimer’s and other dementias have increased by 5% for men and by 8.7% for women in the past 10 years, in part as a result of changes in the way deaths from the condition are recorded.
In contrast, deaths from ischaemic heart disease fell by 6.2% for men and 5.9% for women over the same period.
Hilary Evans, chief executive of the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “These latest figures underline a stark reality: with no treatments yet able to affect the course of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, no-one currently survives a diagnosis of dementia.
“These statistics should give us cause to redouble our efforts in the fight against them,” she said. “Advances in medicine have helped reduce the impact of conditions like heart disease; now we must see the same to happen for dementia.”
”Historically dementia was mistakenly seen by many clinicians as a natural part of ageing”
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “It’s saddening to see that a tenth of all recorded deaths are due to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease – an increase on last year’s figures.
”It is an alarming reminder of the desperate need for more investment into research to ultimately find a cure. In the short term, better quality and more accessible palliative care needs to be available to people with dementia who often have less access to this type of care than people with other conditions, like cancer,” he said.
“With 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to soar to one million by 2021, dementia is one of the biggest health and social care challenges we face today,” said Mr Hughes.
He added: ”Historically dementia was mistakenly seen by many clinicians as a natural part of ageing and, as such, they have failed to record it as a cause of death.”