Provisional quarterly figures for deaths in the country show that 1,506 people died from Alzheimer’s and other dementias in the second quarter of 2017 – with deaths from Alzheimer’s disease up 33.4% from the same period one year ago, and deaths from dementia up 16.9%.
Some of the recorded rise is due to a change in the way death records are coded for Scotland’s official statistics, with dementia now recognised as the underlying cause of death in many cases that would previously have been attributed to chest infections or pneumonia.
Dr Matthew Norton, Director of Policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, said:
“Alarming as this report is, we cannot hide away from the reality these statistics represent: the devastating impact of dementia across Scotland. Part of the increase has been driven by changes in the way death records are represented in official statistics, but this does not fully account for the size of the increase and we must face up to the fact that dementia is set to become the UK’s biggest killer as our population ages. While age is the biggest risk factor for the condition, dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing – we can defeat it. The only way to stop dementia from being a death sentence in future is through the power of research.
“At Alzheimer’s Research UK, we have set ourselves the mission of bringing about a life-changing treatment for dementia by 2025. An effective treatment would not only make a huge difference to people affected by dementia, but would reduce the heavy strain the condition is placing on our health and social care system, helping more people to stay healthier for longer. For this to happen, we need to see an increased investment in dementia research. We’ve made great progress, but the job is not done yet and these statistics only emphasise the urgency of the challenge ahead.”