Dementia as second leading cause of death of all Australians, on the rise

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The number of deaths in Australia from dementia has increased by 68 per cent over the past decade while other leading causes of death, ischaemic heart disease and cerebrovascular diseases such as stroke and other circulatory conditions, have decreased over the same period.

Deaths from dementia have increased from 33.1 deaths per 100,000 people in 2008, to 41.6 in 2017, according to the Causes of Death 2017 Report released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Maree McCabe, CEO Dementia Australia said this updated data reinforces the need for major investment in dementia research, services and support, as well as the importance of continuing to educate the community and raise awareness about dementia.

“If this trend continues dementia, sadly, will become the leading cause of death of all Australians in just a few years,” Ms McCabe said.

“Dementia must be a health and ageing policy priority for all state and federal governments, health services and the aged care sector.”

Dementia is Australia’s second leading cause of death overall, and the leading cause of death of women.

“With more than 436,000 Australians living with dementia and an estimated 1.45 million people involved in the care of someone with dementia, it is clearly one of the biggest public health challenges facing Australia,” Ms McCabe said.

Leading Causes of Death, Australia1

Cause of death 2008  2012 2017
Ischaemic heart diseases 23,813 20,108 18,590
Dementia, including Alzheimer disease 8,172 10,367 13,729
Cerebrovascular diseases 11,979 10,785 10,186

1ABS Australia’s leading causes of death, 2017


Dementia Australia is the national peak body and charity for people, of all ages, living with all forms of dementia, their families and carers. It provides advocacy, support services, education and information. An estimated 436,000 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach almost 1.1 million by 2058. Dementia Australia is the new voice of Alzheimer’s Australia. Dementia Australia’s services are supported by the Australian Government.

National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 Interpreter service available

(The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government)

Dementia is a National Health Priority Area                                                                             
Media contacts: Christine Bolt 0400 004 553 /
When talking or writing about dementia please refer to Dementia Language Guidelines.