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3. Nearly every fifth died of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

During 2020, a total of 10,700 Finns died from dementia (including Alzheimer's disease), which is over 500 more than in the year before. Dementia mortality relative to the population and age structure grew by two per cent from 2019. Those dying from this disease group accounted for 19 per cent of all deaths.

The number of deaths from dementia has nearly doubled over the past ten years. The growth is also visible in the age-standardised figures (Figure 6), where the effects of the population structure are taken into consideration. The growth is in part the result of more specific diagnostics and changes in the definitions of causes of death (WHO guidelines). From 2005, the causes of death statistics have adopted an international guideline that limits the use of pneumonia as a primary cause of death in connection with several chronic diseases. If a person, in addition to pneumonia, is suffering from, for example, dementia, dementia is selected as the primary cause of death.

Mortality from dementia and Alzheimer's disease has increased annually almost as much for men and women. A majority, or two-thirds, of those who die from this disease group are, however, women. The higher share of deaths from dementia among women than men is caused by the fact there are more women in the older age groups as women live longer than men. The average age at death of persons that died from dementia was 86 years for men and 89 years for women.

According to preliminary data for 2018, dementia mortality (incl. Alzheimer's disease) among men and women was highest in Finland relative to the population in EU countries. By contrast, pneumonia mortality was the lowest in Finland of EU countries. Pneumonia is rarer in Finland than elsewhere in the EU as the primary cause of death. Pneumonia is a common immediate cause of death in Finland.

Figure 6. Age-standardised dementia mortality (incl. Alzheimer’s disease) 1971 to 2020

Figure 6. Age-standardised dementia mortality (incl. Alzheimer’s disease) 1971 to 2020

Source: Causes of death, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Airi Pajunen 029 551 3605, Kati Taskinen 029 551 3648, Jari Hellanto 029 551 3291, kuolemansyyt@stat.fi

Head of Department in charge: Hannele Orjala


Updated 10.12.2021

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Causes of death [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-5078. 2020, 3. Nearly every fifth died of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 25.6.2022].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ksyyt/2020/ksyyt_2020_2021-12-10_kat_003_en.html