The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has today (23 October) revealed ‘dementia and Alzheimer’s disease’ were the leading cause of death in September. Collectively they accounted for 11.2% of all deaths in England and 11.1% of deaths in Wales.
Coronary heart disease, itself a risk factor for dementia, was the second leading cause of death in both England and Wales. In England, COVID-19 was the 19th most common cause of death and was 24th in Wales.
Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, has said government must do everything it can to protect people with dementia and deliver on its commitment to double funding for dementia research to stop the devastating impact the condition is causing.
During the 2019 election, the government promised to increase its spending on dementia research to over £160 million a year, but no further detail on this pledge has yet been revealed.
Samantha Benham-Hermetz, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Dementia is a devastating condition with these new official figures revealing that in September dementia was the leading cause of death in England and Wales. Those with dementia have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be hugely distressing for people with dementia and their families to hear that research shows they are the most likely to die from the virus and many of those with the condition are also having to deal with the effects of social isolation, which could be worsening symptoms.
“Every life lost from dementia is a tragedy and these sobering figures must act as a wake-up call to government of the challenges dementia poses and the urgent need to find life-changing treatments. Nearly a year ago, the government promised to double funding for dementia research to over £160 million a year, but we are yet to see any further action.
“This must not be another empty promise. Until we see proper funding to deliver a life-changing dementia treatment we will continue to see more people dying from the condition year-on-year. We must act now to protect people with dementia.”