The Hidden Death Toll of Dementia

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Dementia has recently been discovered to be more dangerous than previously have thought. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s probably a more life-threatening disease than cancer when it comes to number of deaths caused by it.

According to a recent study taken in the US, Alzheimer’s and its most common form dementia have been the underlying cause behind a massive death toll. However, as these diseases usually implicitly induce the other deadly illness, such as pneumonia, which is mistakenly believed to be the main cause of death. Alzheimer’s patients suffering in the form of dementia are too often gone unrecorded, especially on the death certificate.

In fact, according to the study the actual number of deaths caused by the concerning diseases would be likely to increase by 6 times if they were able to be accurately and properly listed in death certificates and medical records. This is partly attributed to the fact that doctors record the disease the patient was superficially suffering from as reason of death. Alzheimer’s and dementia may be the root of a large death toll, yet have been dangerously under-reported. In addition, though the study was conducted within the US, it has been reported that the incorrect errors in jotting down true diseases in death certificates and medical records is also widespread in the UK. This equates to the fact that the diseases like pneumonia are likely to be a secondary, rather than primary, factors for death in the UK.

In general, 60,000 people per year are reported to pass away due to dementia. Having that number multiplied by 6, the number of deceased victims of dementia will surpass the number of cancer (157,000) and heart disease (161,000) victims combined. This discovery has led to numerous concerns, one of which is the fact that most death certificates don’t accurately tell the whole story as far as the cause of death is concern. Moreover, it should become must greater common knowledge that dementia is more of a terminal disease than it has appeared to be in order to raise appropriate awareness. Realizing the true effects of it, the medical industry will be stimulated to prioritize research regarding this ailment.

Image credit: Tim & Selena Middleton

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