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09 April 2016

United Kingdom: Death Rate Spikes for First Time in a Decade

UK death rate spikes for first time in a decade
by Adrian O'Dowd, onmedica.com, 8 April 2016

England and Wales experienced the largest rise in the number of deaths last year in more than a decade, according to new figuresfrom the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Early analysis seems to suggest that the rise was caused by an increase in dementia and Alzheimer’s related deaths and respiratory diseases (including flu) among older people.

For the first time, the ONS, with support from Public Health England, have carried out analysis of the weekly and monthly death figures after the 2015 provisional data showed the highest number of deaths in a single year since 2003 and the highest year on year percentage increase since 1968.

Last year, there were 529,613 deaths registered in England and Wales, an increase of 28,189 (5.6%) compared with 2014, with 86% of the extra deaths occurring in people aged over 75 and 38% in people aged over 90.

Deaths remained close to the five-year average in the first 12 weeks of 2016, and the large increase in deaths in the early part of 2015 was not repeated in the early part of this year.

The ONS said the figures also suggested that life expectancy at birth would fall by 0.2 years to 79.3 years for boys and by 0.3 years to 82.9 years for girls if mortality rates remained the same as they were in 2015.

Claudia Wells, head of mortality analysis at ONS, said: “The majority of the increase in deaths in 2015 happened during the first few months of the year, coinciding with an increase in hospital admissions for flu and reports of numerous outbreaks of the virus in care homes.

“Respiratory diseases, such as flu, were also mentioned in a third of deaths from dementia and Alzheimer’s last year. The number of deaths where dementia and Alzheimer’s were listed as the underlying cause have been steadily increasing over the last 15 years, but were well above the five year average in 2015.”

Professor John Newton, chief knowledge officer at Public Health England said: “The population is ageing and we are seeing more people diagnosed and living with illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in later life.

“A range of factors can push up the number of deaths in older people in a particular year. An outbreak of flu can have a big impact, especially on those who are most vulnerable or experiencing other illnesses, such as dementia.

“An increase in deaths will generally lead to a decrease in life expectancy that year, but we have seen these annual fluctuations before and the overall trend has remained positive”.

A similar patter was seen north of the border where National Records of Scotland said that registered deaths in Scotland in winter 2014/15 were at their highest level since winter 1999-2000.

The Northern Ireland Statistic & Research Agency said that there had been 870 excess winter deaths in Northern Ireland in 2014-15, the highest since 2009-10.

Alzheimer’s Research UK’s chief executive Hilary Evans said: “This analysis further underlines the devastating impact of dementia and the scale of the challenge we face.

“With an ageing population, the number of people with dementia is increasing and there are currently no treatments to slow or stop diseases like Alzheimer’s. Research has the power to defeat dementia, but we must invest in research if we are to find the treatments and preventions that are so desperately needed.”

http://www.onmedica.com/newsArticle.aspx?id=ab444234-137f-4719-994f-6ea4fff97d44

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