Dementia is now Britain’s biggest killer, overtaking heart disease for first time new figures have shown.
Some 70,366 people died from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia last year compared to around 66,076 deaths from heart disease.
In 2015 heart disease was the biggest killer with 69,785 death, while 69,182 people died from dementia.
The switch is being driven by the ageing British population, combined with improvements in heart health, as more people are prescribed statins and beta blockers to cope with high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Charities have called on the government to double its annual £132 million dementia research funding over the next five years. Projections suggest that 1.2 million will be living with dementia by 2040.
The new figures combine data released last year from theOffice for National Statistics (ONS) with new mortality statistics from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, giving a full picture for Britain.
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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.”