For the first time, dementia leading cause of death in Belgium

More Belgians are dying from the effects of dementia. Between 2004 and 2019, the number of deaths attributed to Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia increased by more than 70 per cent. ''The disease indirectly leads to death because of its impact on the body,'' said professor Jan Steyaert to De Tijd, who came to this conclusion based on mortality figures from the Belgian health institute Sciensano.

Almost one in ten deaths in Belgium is attributed to dementia. In 2004, that figure was about 5 per cent. While fewer than 50 people per 100,000 inhabitants died of some form of dementia in the early 2000s, that figure has increased to 84.5 in 2019. In Flanders, the impact of dementia on death rates is more significant than in Wallonia or the Brussels Capital Region.

"Very often dementia is the underlying cause of a death," Professor Jan Steyaert of the Expertise Centre Dementia Flanders told De Tijd. "The disease indirectly leads to death through its impact on the body. Pneumonia, difficulty swallowing or eating, or some other condition due to reduced resistance is the immediate cause of death."

Experts say the primary explanation for the sharp rise lies in the ageing population. For women, dementia is the leading cause of death. While dementia is increasingly the cause of death, the impact of cardiovascular disease on mortality is declining year after year. The number of fatalities after cerebral haemorrhage or stroke is also dropping sharply. However, the number of deaths due to cancer remains stable.


© BELGA PHOTO Maxime Anciaux

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