Dementia now a bigger killer than heart disease
Dementia is now the biggest killer in Britain, having overtaken heart disease for the first time. The research, released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), showed that more than 61,000 people died from dementia last year, which accounted for 11.6 per cent of all recorded deaths.
The ONS has attributed the change in trend to an ageing population. People are living longer and the number of deaths from other causes is going down. Doctors are also better at diagnosing dementia meaning it has been given as the cause of death on more and more death certificates.
Hilary Evans of Alzheimer’s Research UK said: “These figures once again call attention to the uncomfortable reality that currently, noone 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.”
Martina Kane of the Alzheimer’s Society said: “It is essential that people have access to the right support and services to help them live well with dementia and that research into better care, treatments and eventually a cure remain high on the agenda.”
Heart disease still remains the biggest threat among the male population of Britain but for women, it is clearly dementia. It accounted for 15.2 per cent of all female deaths in 2015, an increase from 13.4 per cent the year before.
While there were 20,403 male deaths from dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, last year, it was the cause of death for 41,283 women. All types of cancer grouped together was still the most common cause of death overall.
In the youngest age group, aged five to 19, suicide was the leading cause of death. Among women aged 35 to 49, breast cancer was the biggest killer. There is thought to be about 10,000 Irish people and 850,000 people in total living with dementia in the UK. As a demographically older group, the Irish have the highest estimated prevalence of dementia of any ethnic group in Britain. Anecdotal evidence from community organisations also suggests that Irish Travellers might have a higher risk of dementia and could develop it at a younger age.
Warning signs of dementia
Seek medical advice if your memory loss is affecting daily life and especially if you:
• struggle to remember recent events, although you can easily recall things that happened in the past
• find it hard to follow conversations or programmes on TV
• forget the names of friends or everyday objects
• cannot recall things you have heard, seen or read
• lose the thread of what you are saying
• have problems thinking and reasoning
• feel anxious, depressed or angry
• feel confused even when in a familiar environment or get lost on familiar journeys
• find that other people start to notice or comment on your memory loss