UK deaths from Alzheimer's up by 52%

Published: 17 December 2014 at 10:31

Anglia Ruskin University Professor involved in global study into mortality rates

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Silent killer Alzheimer’s claimed 52% more lives in 2013 than in 1990, according to a study published in The Lancet journal today.

Professor Rupert Bourne, of Anglia Ruskin University’s Vision and Eye Research Unit, was involved in researching the data as part of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study 2013, which finds that the average life expectancy for men in the UK rose from 1990 by five years to 79.1, with women living to 82.8 years on average.

The number of UK deaths from Alzheimer’s rose from 32,429 in 1990 to 49,349 in 2013. The degenerative disease eventually results in the loss of bodily functions, leading to death. Mortality from conditions such as oesophageal and prostate cancer rose by 34% and 31% respectively. Deaths from ischemic heart disease have dropped by 45% - from 256,332 deaths in 1990 to 100,440 fewer in 2013.

The UK’s leading killers were ischemic heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease, which together accounted for 35% of all deaths in 2013. For people aged between 15 and 49, suicide and ischemic heart disease were the two most common causes of death in 2013.

Across the world, people live an average of 6.2 years longer than they did in 1990, with an average life expectancy of just under 72. Out of the 188 countries included in the study, the UK ranked 24th for women and 17th for men for longest life expectancies. In 2013, Andorra had the longest life expectancy for women (86.7 years) and Qatar for men (81.2 years). Lesotho had the shortest life expectancy for both women (51.2 years) and men (45.6 years).

Professor Bourne said:

“It has been a privilege to have been involved in this vital study which gives a comprehensive view of mortality across the globe. This informs what health services and governments need to focus their attention and resources on in 2014 – with an increasing life expectancy in the UK and indeed across the world, diseases such as Alzheimer’s are becoming increasingly prevalent.”

The study, “Global, regional and national age-sex specific all-cause and cause-specific mortality for 240 causes of death, 1990-2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013”, was conducted by an international consortium of researchers coordinated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. It was published in The Lancet on December 18.

The full paper can be downloaded at