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Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease has replaced heart disease as the leading cause of death in England and Wales, making up 11.6 percent of all registered deaths in 2015, according to a bulletin from the United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics.

Heart disease followed closely behind, with 11.5 percent of all registered deaths in 2015. Alzheimer’s and other dementias were the leading cause of death for women, accounting for just over 15 percent of all female deaths, up from 13.4 in 2014. Heart disease was the leading cause of death for men, accounting for 14.3 percent of all male deaths.

“In 2015, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease became the leading cause of death in part because people are simply living longer but also because of improved detection and diagnosis,” said Elizabeth McLaren with the Office for National Statistics. “An updating of the international rules for determining the underlying cause of death is also a factor, with the increase in cases attributed to these conditions accompanied by falls in other causes.”

The bulletin notes that there have been similar increases in the number of deaths from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease reported in other countries including Finland, Northern Ireland and Australia.

Meanwhile, a new longitudinal study in the United States shows a decrease in the number of people in the United States with Alzheimer’s disease

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