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Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine (WIPM)

Risk of dying from dementia higher among the socioeconomically deprived

A new study shows for the first time that a large proportion of dementia deaths in England and Wales may be due to socioeconomic deprivation. Socioeconomic deprivation is also associated with younger age at death with dementia, and poorer access to specialist diagnosis.

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Researchers from the Wolfson’s Preventive Neurology Unit examined Office for National Statistics mortality data for England and Wales, and found that in 2017 14,837 excess dementia deaths were attributable to deprivation, equating to 21.5% of all dementia deaths that year. Dementia is the leading cause of death in England and Wales, even during the COVID pandemic, and is the only disease in the top ten causes of death without effective treatment.

Corresponding author Dr Charles Marshall said: Understanding how we might prevent dementia deaths is especially important. Growing socioeconomic inequality might be having an unrecognised impact on brain health, and addressing inequality could be an important strategy to help stem the rising tide of dementia.

The Preventive Neurology Unit is supported by Bart’s Charity.

Mark Jitlal, Guru NK Amirthalingam, Tasvee Karania, Eve Parry, Aidan Neligan, Ruth Dobson, Alastair J Noyce, Charles R Marshall. The influence of socioeconomic deprivation on dementia mortality, age at death and quality of diagnosis: a nationwide death records study in England and Wales 2001-2017. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 23 March 2021.