Last year more than 61,000 people died from dementia / iStock

Around twice as many women than men died of dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease, last year

More people now die from dementia than heart disease in England and Wales.

Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia were the leading cause of death last year, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In 2015, dementia claimed more than 61,000 lives and accounted for 11.6 per cent of recorded deaths.

Around twice as many women than men died of the brain condition, which mainly affects people over 65.

Coronary heart disease – the number one cause of death worldwide – was responsible for 11.5 per cent of deaths registered in 2015 and is still the leading cause of death for men.

This change is “in part because people are simply living longer but also because of improved detection and diagnosis,” said ONS statistician Elizabeth McLaren.

A graph showing the leading causes of death in 2015 (Office for National Statistics)

Among women, dementia and Alzheimer's disease account for 15.2 per cent of deaths, up from 13.4 per cent in 2014.

Deaths among men attributed to dementia also increased last year to 7.9 per cent. This is likely due to longer life expectancy among men, according to the ONS.

The average age of the UK population is increasing and the number of people living for more than 100 years has risen by 65 per cent in the last decade.

There were half a million people aged 90 and over living in the UK in 2015.

Martina Kane, Senior Policy Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, called the news "a stark reminder that dementia remains a growing concern across the country."

"While the news represents improvements in diagnosis rates, general awareness and the accuracy of reporting, it also reflects that there are rising numbers of people with dementia," she said.

"While there remains no cure for the condition, everyone who develops it will sadly still have the disease when they die. It is therefore essential that people have access to the right support and services to help them live well with dementia and that research into better care, treatments and eventually a cure remain high on the agenda.”