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Deaths from Alzheimer's disease up by a third in a year

A total of 570 deaths from the condition were recorded between March and June.

Dementia: Now accounts for 10% of all deaths (file pic).
Dementia: Now accounts for 10% of all deaths (file pic).

Deaths from Alzheimer's disease have risen by a third in the last year, with campaigners warning the "alarming" increase is placing a "heavy strain" on the NHS and care services.

A total of 570 deaths from the condition were recorded in the period March to June 2017, new data from the National Records of Scotland showed.

That represents a rise of 33.4% the same period last year and more than double the 257 deaths that occurred in the same three months of in 2014.

A further 936 deaths in Scotland were a result of dementia, the figures showed, with this having increased by 16.9% over the year - although this was said in part to be due to changes in the software used to record causes of death.

The latest NRS quarterly report on births, deaths and marriages stated: "There has been a relatively large increase in the number of deaths from dementia and Alzheimer's disease with such deaths now accounting for around 10% of all deaths compared to 5% a decade ago."

Dr Matthew Norton, director of policy at Alzheimer's Research UK (Aruk), said: "Alarming as this report is, we cannot hide away from the reality these statistics represent: the devastating impact of dementia across Scotland.

"Part of the increase has been driven by changes in the way death records are represented in official statistics, but this does not fully account for the size of the increase and we must face up to the fact that dementia is set to become the UK's biggest killer as our population ages."

He added: "While age is the biggest risk factor for the condition, dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing - we can defeat it. The only way to stop dementia from being a death sentence in future is through the power of research."

Aruk hopes to develop a "life-changing" treatment for the condition by 2025.

Dr Norton said this would reduce the strain on health services and help more people stay healthier for longer.

"For this to happen, we need to see an increased investment in dementia research," he added.

Mental health Minister Maureen Watt said the rise in dementia diagnoses was in line with other countries with aging populations.

She added: "Our National Dementia Strategy sets out actions to transform services and improve outcomes for people with dementia, their families and carers to give them the right care, at the right time in the right setting."

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