Figures show dementia is leading cause of death for women over 80

Posted on 27th February 2015

A new analysis by the Office of National Statistics shows that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are the leading cause of death for women over 80. The figures also show that the condition is the second biggest killer of men over 80.

The analysis of deaths in England and Wales shows that in 2012, 165,737 women over the age of 80 died, with 16% of these deaths caused by dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. In contrast the condition accounted for 10% of deaths in men over 80.

These findings back up a soon-to-be-published study by Alzheimer’s Research UK, which reveals that not only is dementia the leading cause of death among British women, but that women are far more likely to end up as carers of those with dementia than men – suffering physical and emotional stress and job losses in the process. The report, due to be published on 8 March 2015 at the Women of the World Festival, highlights the huge toll of dementia on women in the UK:

  • More than 500,000 women are now affected by dementia. About 350,000 men have the condition.
  • Women over 60 are now twice as likely to get dementia as breast cancer.
  • Women are more than two-and-a-half times more likely than men to provide intensive, 24-hr care for people with dementia.

Hilary Evans, Director of External Affairs at Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, said:

“Age is the biggest risk factor for dementia, and with women living longer than men, we would expect to see this reflected in cause of death. Dementia has a devastating impact on all those whose lives it touches, but the condition is hitting women particularly hard.

“The figures highlight dementia as a huge problem that we cannot shy away from any longer. The experiences of these women underline the urgent need to tackle the diseases that cause this life-shattering condition. Encouragingly, statistics show that other health conditions, such as heart disease, are beginning to be tamed thanks to improved research into treatment, prevention and better public health. We must now turn our attentions to dementia – our greatest health challenge – and invest in research that will drive better prevention and treatment of the condition.”

Posted in Policy news, Science news