20% of people died from COVID-19 had dementia, new research shows

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In a new study, researchers found that more people with dementia died from COVID-19 in England and Wales compared to any other pre-existing condition.

Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, has called on the government to do more to protect people with dementia from COVID-19 following the news.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that of the 33,841 deaths including COVID-19 in England and Wales between March 1 and April 30, 6,887 (20.4%) had dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as the main pre-existing health condition.

These findings come on the same day as statistics show that over 40% of people who died due to COVID-19 in care homes also had dementia.

According to ONS, of the 73,180 deaths in care homes in England and Wales, 12,526 of these mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate.

Nine in 10 (89.0%) deaths were of those with at least one pre-existing health issue, with the most common main condition being dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, with 5,115 deaths (42.5% of all deaths involving COVID-19).

The new findings show that there is a link between dementia and the virus.

As age is the biggest risk factor for dementia, and with older people also more likely to experience severe symptoms from COVID-19, this may partly explain the high number of deaths.

With over two-thirds of people in care homes living with dementia and the high rates of infection in these facilities, they are at a higher risk of being badly affected by COVID-19.

Researchers urge the government to do more to protect people with dementia from COVID-19 and stop further deaths.

More research is needed to understand the link between the virus and dementia, while extra measures must be put in place to limit the spread of infection, particularly in care homes, so people can be kept safe.

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