Dementia found to be the leading cause of death in the U.K. for 2 years in a row

A report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that dementia was the leading cause of death in England and Wales for two consecutive years. According to the researchers, the neurological disorder is now responsible for more deaths compared with heart disease. Data from the ONS showed that dementia accounted for up to 62,948 deaths in 2016, which equated to 12 percent of total deaths registered in the same year.

The report has also noted that women are more likely than men to develop the cognitive disease. According to the statistics, dementia is responsible for 41,747 deaths among women, compared with only 21,201 deaths recorded in men. However, health experts have explained that the increased risk of dementia in women might be due to their longer life expectancy.

In contrast, some experts have pointed that the upsurge in dementia-related mortality may have something to do with the doctors’ increased ability to effectively diagnose the disease. People older than 65 years old are also at an increased risk of dementia due in part to their high blood pressure levels and compromised immunity, scientists added.

“Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease was once again the leading cause of death for England and Wales in 2016, with an increase in number of deaths compared with 2015. Although general increases in longevity and improved treatment of other conditions are part of the reason for this increase, improvements in recognition, identification and diagnosis of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have also contributed,” ONS statistician Vasita Patel has told Daily Mail online.

“As well as being a leading cause of death, research has also shown that dementia is one of the key reasons for life expectancy increases slowing. There are currently 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia…What makes dementia one of the greatest medical challenges of modern society is the fact that we still lack a life-changing treatment to offer those affected. To defeat dementia, we must invest in research and it is essential that the condition is a national priority,” added Dr Matthew Norton, director of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The scientific community has stressed that more initiatives are warranted in order to stem the number of deaths associated with dementia.

Dementia was U.K.’s biggest killer in 2016

In 2016, dementia took over heart disease as the leading cause of death in England and Wales. Data from the ONS revealed that more than 61,000 people died of dementia in 2015 alone, which equated to 11.6 percent of all recorded deaths in both regions. An aging population is largely blamed for the increase in dementia-related deaths, the federal agency has noted.

The statistics have also shown that a larger portion of dementia deaths have occurred in women at 41,283, compared with only 20,403 dementia deaths in men. Dementia has also accounted for 15.2 percent of all female deaths in 2015, a significant increase from only 13.4 percent in 2014. (Related: Dementia now the top cause of death among women in the UK.)

“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,” Hilary Evans of Alzheimer’s Research UK has stated in a BBC article.

Martina Kane of the Alzheimer’s Society has also stressed on the importance of access to the right support and services for people with dementia in order to help them live well. The expert has also highlighted that research on better care, treatments, and eventual cure are still considered priority projects.

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