Dementia is now Britain’s biggest killer, figures show

It shows 70,366 people died from dementia last year, compared to 66,076 deaths from coronary heart disease – most of them heart attacks.

Dementia has been confirmed as the biggest killer for the whole of the UK, overtaking coronary heart disease for the first time. The figures combine existing data for England, Wales and Scotland with new statistics published yesterday by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

Heart attack survival has vastly improved in recent years, due to wider uptake of statin drugs, better medical procedures and faster treatment times. The figure shows 70,366 people died from dementia last year, compared to 66,076 deaths from coronary heart disease – most of them heart attacks

Overall there has been a 46 per cent reduction in death rates from heart attacks in the last decade. At the same time dementia is on the rise as people live longer – but despite years of trying scientists have failed to create a treatment to effectively tackle the disease.

The Office for National Statistics first revealed a year ago that dementia had become the leading cause of death for England and Wales in 2015. More recent figures show 12 per cent of all deaths were caused by dementia in England and Wales in 2016.

Coronary heart disease, which includes heart attacks and angina, for many years the greatest killer, was the cause of 11 per cent of deaths.


Life expectancy in the UK has increased slightly for both men and women – although progress is slowing, new figures show.

A girl born between 2014 and 2016 is expected to live until 82.9 years old, whereas a baby boy could see 79.2 years, an increase of 0.1 per cent on 2013 to 2015, the Office for National Statistics found last month.

Males born in the same two-year period have a 21 per cent chance of living until 90, while a female has a 32 per cent chance of becoming a nonagenarian.

Currently, a 65-year-old man can expect to see a further 18.5 years of life, whereas a woman of the same age can expect to live a further 20.9 years.

‘Startling figures’

Hilary Evans, chief executive at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ‘These startling figures emphasise the health crisis we face in the UK at the hands of dementia.

‘Year-on-year, we are seeing more people conquer and survive serious health conditions like heart disease, but deaths from dementia continue to rise.

‘The fact that there are currently no treatments to slow or stop the diseases behind dementia brings into sharp focus the scale of the challenge and the urgency with which we must tackle it.

‘Dementia may be the biggest killer in the UK today, but research has the power to stop this from being the case in the future.’

How many people have dementia?

Around 850,000 people in Britain are living with dementia, 500,000 of whom have the Alzheimer’s form of the disease.

David Cameron in 2013 pledged a new drug would be developed to ‘slow down’ or ‘even cure’ dementia by 2025.

But that promise has been all but abandoned after a series of high-profile drug trial failures.

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