Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are the most common causes of death for women in Scotland and the second most cited reason for all fatalities, a new report has shown.
The conditions were cited as the leading cause of 11.3 per cent of the 57,883 deaths that occured last year.
While heart disease was the most common killer for men, responsible for 14.8 per cent of fatalities among males, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia were the cause of death for 14.8 per cent of women who died.
The rise in dementia deaths from 4,915 in 2014 to 6,549 in 2017 prompted a call for action from charity Age Scotland.
Chief executive Brian Sloan warned the country’s ageing population meant the number of people with dementia could rise by 50 per cent over the next 20 years to more than 120,000.
He said: “The older a person gets, the more likely they are to develop dementia and as women on average have a longer life expectancy, they are more likely to be impacted by it.
“Beyond these figures, the impact dementia has on women is profound.
“Women make up the largest group of unpaid carers in our society, which has a significant negative impact on their personal finances in later life.
“Dementia is currently incurable and while positive developments in treatment are happening more frequently, the critical challenge for the Scottish Government is how to better prevent dementia and to improve the quality of life of those living with it and their carers.”
The figures have been released by the National Records of Scotland -
The most common causes of death in 2017 were ischaemic heart disease, which accounted for 6,727 deaths or 11.6 per cent of fatalities, followed by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Lung cancer was the main cause of 7 per cent of deaths (4,069) ahead of cerebrovascular disease such as strokes, which accounted for 6.8 per cent (3,927). Chronic respiratory disease was responsible for 6 per cent of fatalities (3,449).
The report said: “Over time, the leading causes of death have changed.
“In 2000, the leading cause was also ischaemic heart disease, but it accounted for a much higher proportion of deaths (21.5 per cent).
“Cerebrovascular disease was the second most common cause, accounting for 11.8 per cent of deaths, and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease did not appear in the top five.”
Overall, chest, heart and stroke conditions claimed more than 14,000 lives in Scotland last year.
A total of 6,727 deaths were linked to ischaemic heart disease in 2017, with a further 3,927 deaths from cerebrovascular disease and 6,854 from respiratory disease.
Jane-Claire Judson, chief executive officer of the Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland charity, said: “Although progress has been made over the years, every one of these statistics is a life lost.
“So much more still needs to be done to tackle Scotland’s biggest killers and help people live longer lives with these conditions.
“There are over one million people living with the impact of chest, heart and stroke conditions in Scotland and over 14,000 loved ones were lost to these condition last year.
“It’s unacceptable that in Scotland people with lung conditions like COPD face inequality in access to life-giving pulmonary rehab and that people face being more disabled by serious strokes because they can’t get a thrombectomy. The Scottish Government can and should end these injustices right now.”