| TWICE as many people die from Alzheimer's now than they did 13 years ago, with nearly 12,000 victims a year, warn experts.
This makes the condition the most common cause of death among nervous system disorders, which claim 20,250 lives a year.
Nervous system conditions represent 5.2 per cent of fatalities and the fourth-highest non-accidental cause of death in Spain, with circulatory system disorders – such as heart problems and stroke – accounting for 30.5 per cent, or just over 118,000 victims a year.
Heart conditions and stroke are more likely to claim lives than cancer, which accounts for 28.2 per cent of non-accidental deaths, or just over 109,000 a year in Spain – an increase of two per cent between 2010 and 2011, the most recent statistics available, a period during which respiratory disorders causing mortality rose by five per cent.
And suicide has taken over from traffic accidents as the most common cause of accidental death – a total of 3,180 people killed themselves in 2011, compared to the 2,116 who died in road crashes.
Generally, causes of death that have declined in number since 2010 are HIV and AIDS, or traffic accidents.
Among deaths from cancer, men are more likely to suffer from lung or bronchial tumours and women from breast cancer, with colon cancer being the third most-likely cause of fatalities.
But in the case of breast cancer, early detection normally means a high survival rate and the majority of cancer deaths result from the disease spreading and causing secondary tumours – scientists say the overall survival rate from cancer is currently 65 per cent.
All three types of cancer are increasing rapidly in number, according to the National Statistics Institute (INE).
For age, the most-frequent causes death in those aged 80 or over are heart conditions or stroke, with the 40-79 age-bracket and the five to 14-year-old range being most likely to die from cancer.
Those aged between 15 and 39 are most likely to die from external causes, with suicide now resulting in a higher death rate than road crashes.
Infant deaths, under the age of five tend to be due to inherent deformities or other conditions acquired at birth which mean a very limited life expectancy, or from external causes.
In 2011, the death rate was 841 people per 100,000 inhabitants, or 0.84 per cent, of which slightly more were men than women.
Photograph: An Alzheimer's therapy centre. Constant stimulation is crucial to slow the process of loss of cognitive function in patients