Deaths from dementia and Alzheimer’s at home rise 79% during coronavirus – ONS

Deaths from dementia and Alzheimer's disease in private homes in England have risen 79% during the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show.

There were 2,095 excess deaths from these conditions registered between March 14 and September 11, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

This is a rise of 79% compared with the average recorded for the same period over the past five years.

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In Wales, there was a 94% rise, with 133 excess deaths involving dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Deaths from cerebral palsy, heart rhythm problems, diabetes and Parkinson's disease also increased more than 70% in England.

Disorders of fluid, electrolyte and acid-base balance, including dehydration, rose 95%, accounting for 96 excess deaths.

There were 24,387 excess deaths in private homes in England and 1,644 in Wales compared with the five-year average between March 14 and September 11.

In both countries, deaths in care homes were above the average, while deaths in hospitals and hospices fell below it, suggesting that the "distribution of deaths between the different places of occurrence has shifted".

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Sir David Spiegelhalter, chairman of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication, University of Cambridge, said: "Non-Covid deaths in hospital have correspondingly declined, suggesting most of these deaths would normally have occurred in hospital, and people have either been reluctant to go, discouraged from attending, or the services have been disrupted."

He added that it is "unclear how many of these lives could have been extended had they gone to hospital".

The figures show that the leading cause of death in private homes during Covid-19 was ischaemic heart disease.

In England, males accounted for 53.8% of the excess deaths in private homes, with men and women aged between 70 and 89 accounting for the majority.

The leading cause of death for men was heart disease, accounting for 19% of all male deaths in private homes.

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Deaths of men at home from heart disease rose 26% in England compared with the five-year-average (1,705 additional deaths), with fewer dying in hospital.

Deaths from prostate cancer saw the biggest percentage change from the five-year average – a 53% increase (801 additional deaths)

And deaths from bowel cancer rose 46%.

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In Wales, deaths in private homes for males from heart disease were up 23% on the five-year average, prostate cancer deaths have increased 75%, and bowel cancer deaths were up 52%.

For women, the leading cause of death was heart disease, accounting for 10.5% of all deaths in private homes.

Deaths in private homes of women from dementia and Alzheimer's disease increased by 75% in England compared with the five-year average (1,335 additional deaths).

Deaths from breast cancer were up 47%.

In Wales, the number of women dying in private homes from dementia and Alzheimer's disease was almost double the five-year average (up 92%), while deaths from breast cancer were up 28%.

Hospital deaths of women involving dementia and Alzheimer's disease fell by 40.6% in England and 25.5% in Wales.

Coronavirus was the seventh leading cause of death for men and 11th leading cause of death for women in England.

And in Wales, it was the 10th leading cause of death for men and 15th leading cause of death for women in private homes.

Sarah Caul, head of mortality at ONS, said: "While deaths in hospitals and care homes have dropped below the five-year average since the initial peak of the coronavirus pandemic, we've consistently seen deaths in private homes remain well above the five-year average.

"We have seen an overall increase of deaths as well as a redistribution of various causes of death. For instance, while deaths of heart disease are below average in hospital, it has been above average at home.

"It's a similar picture when looking at prostate cancer for males and dementia and Alzheimer's disease for females. Unlike the high numbers of deaths involving Covid-19 in hospitals and care homes, the majority of deaths in private homes are unrelated to Covid-19."