Official statistics, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on deaths for men and women (combined) registered in England and Wales during 2015, show that dementia has become the main cause of death overall.
There are several reasons behind this trend, including an ageing population (age being the main risk factor for dementia), and growing awareness of dementia resulting in improved rates of diagnosis. Earlier changes to the coding framework may also have caused increased reporting of dementia on death certificates.
The leading cause of death for males in England and Wales is still heart disease.
Dementia now leading cause of death. London: BBC Health News, November 14th 2016.
This relates to:
Deaths Registered in England and Wales (Series DR), 2015. [Online] Fareham [Hampshire]: Office for National Statistics, November 14th 2016.
McDonald, C. (2016). Is dementia becoming more common or less? London: BBC Health News / BBC News Magazine, November 22nd 2016.
The statisticians go to town on a statistical paradox:
McDonald, C. (2016). Is dementia the number one killer? London: BBC Radio 4; More or Less Programme, November 18th 2016 (repeated November 20th 2016).
A personal account:
Kleiderman, A. (2016). ‘A terrible time’: Daughter recounts mother’s dementia battle. London: BBC Health News, November 14th 2016.