DEMENTIA is killing more people in the UK than coronary heart disease for the first time, official figures show.
A total of 70,366 people across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland died from the degenerative brain disease last year.
That equates to more than one in every eight deaths – or 11.8 per cent.
The grim toll compares to 66,076 deaths – or 11.1 per cent – from coronary heart disease.
Alzheimer’s Research UK analysed data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.
Dementia was previously the leading cause of death for women in the UK and the second for men, with heart disease the overall leader.
There were 69,785 deaths from heart disease in 2015, while 69,182 people died from dementia.
The charity is now urging the government to double its annual investment in dementia research to £132million over the next five years in a bid to find a cure.
The ONS said: “With people living longer and surviving other illnesses, the number developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is increasing.
“Improved diagnosis is also likely to have caused increased reporting.”
Hilary Evans, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “These startling figures emphasise the health crisis we face in the UK at the hands of dementia.
“Year-on-year, we are seeing more people conquer and survive serious health conditions like heart disease, but deaths from dementia continue to rise.
“The fact that there are currently no treatments to slow or stop the diseases behind dementia brings into sharp focus the scale of the challenge and the urgency with which we must tackle it.
“Dementia may be the biggest killer in the UK today, but research has the power to stop this from being the case in the future.”