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The aging population means dementia and Alzheimer’s became the biggest causes of death in England and Wales in 2015, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics.

Slightly less than 62 thousand people died of the two diseases this past year, the ONS say, accounting for 11.6 per cent of all deaths. This mean the age-standardised mortality rate for the illnesses has more than doubled over the past five years.

Ischaemic heart disease used to be the leading cause of death overall and still is for men.

Elizabeth McLaren, head of life event statistics at the ONS, said: “Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease became the leading cause of death in part because people are simply living longer but also because of improved detection and diagnosis.”

She also said the rise was due to a change in the international rules for deciding what the underlying cause of death is.

Suicide remained the leading cause of death for the under 35s while cancer was the biggest for the middle-aged.

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