Alzheimer's and dementia are now the biggest killer in England and Wales with more than 1,100 people dying from the disease each week, according to official figures.
The Office for National Statistics revealed people losing their lives to dementia and Alzheimer's now account for 11.6 per cent of all deaths.
This is more than double the figure from five years ago thanks to longer life spans and better detection and diagnosis.
The many forms of cancer are still the largest collective killer, accounting for 529,655 or 27.9 per cent of deaths registered in England and Wales in 2015.
However, dementia and Alzheimer's are the biggest individual killer, accounting for 61,686 deaths in 2015, and overtaking Ischaemic heart diseases for the first time.
Women are more likely to die from Alzheimer's than men, with the disease accounting for 15.2 per cent of female deaths, up from 13.4 per cent in 2014. For men, the figure is 11.6 per cent.
Ischaemic heart diseases is the second most common cause of death, followed by cerebrovascular diseases, chronic lower respiratory diseases and lung cancer.
For women over 80, dementia and Alzheimer's accounted for 21.2 per cent of deaths.
Alzheimer's develops slowly over several years, according to Alzheimer's Research UK, and typically starts with memory loss before getting worse over time. It is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for two-thirds of cases in older people.
There have been similar increases in the number of deaths from dementia and Alzheimer disease reported in other countries including Finland, Northern Ireland and Australia.
Elizabeth McLaren, head of Life Event Statistics at the ONS, said: "In 2015, dementia and Alzheimer's disease became the leading cause of death in part because people are simply living longer but also because of improved detection and diagnosis.
"An updating of the international rules for determining the underlying cause of death is also a factor, with the increase in cases attributed to these conditions accompanied by falls in other causes."
Organisations yesterday (Mon) called for further research into Alzheimer's and dementia after figures revealed the disease is now the biggest killer of people in England and Wales.
More than 60,000 people lost their lives to the cruel disease last year, with the condition now accounting for 11.6 per cent of all deaths.
Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer's Research UK, wants investment in treatment and prevention programmes to stop or slow the diseases which drive the condition.
She said: "These figures once again call attention to the uncomfortable reality that currently, no-one survives a diagnosis of dementia.
"Alzheimer's Research UK's Christmas awareness campaign, launching on Wednesday, recognises this truth, that dementia is affecting increasing numbers of people and turning lives upside down.
"Some of the increase can be explained by a rise in diagnosis rates and a change in the way dementia is recorded on death certificates, offering a more accurate picture of the impact of dementia.
"With growing numbers of people living with dementia, we urgently need treatments that can stop or slow the diseases that drive this devastating condition.
"Today's report shows the potential for medical research and public policy to make a positive impact on the health of our nation.
"Thanks to better treatments and prevention programmes, deaths from many other serious conditions have been steadily dropping: now we must do the same for dementia.
"Dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing, it's caused by diseases that can be fought through research, and we must bring all our efforts to bear on what is now our greatest medical challenge."