Some 90,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in the United States each year, representing an increase of approximately 50% over previous estimated incidence rates, according to a recent study supported by the Parkinson’s Foundation. in 2022.
“The growing number of cases of Parkinson’s disease will lead to more falls, more hip fractures, and more people requiring assisted living,” said Dr. Michael S. Okun, director of the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases at UF. Health in Gainesville, Florida. Fox News digital.
He is also a medical advisor to the Parkinson’s Foundation, a Miami-based nonprofit group, but was not part of the study.
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The study estimated the prevalence of Parkinson’s disease in North America by analyzing a large group of diverse populations.
The research aimed to provide a more accurate estimate than previous studies, which estimated an incidence rate of 40,000 to 60,000 diagnoses per year.
“Previous estimates were based on a small number of cases from areas that are not representative of the nation as a whole,” according to the Parkinson’s Foundation website.
“The previous prevalence study, conducted 40 years ago, extrapolated the 26 people with PD in a rural county in Mississippi as a baseline estimate for the prevalence of PD in the United States”
“Men are more likely to have PD than women, and the number of people diagnosed with PD increases with age.”
The site also says: “The new incidence rate is 1.5 times higher, at almost 90,000 cases per year.”
More statistics on Parkinson’s disease
Approximately one million people in the United States have Parkinson’s disease.
More than 10 million people worldwide live with the disease, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation.
PD is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the United States, with Alzheimer’s disease not being the disease. 1.
According to the study, the main risk of PD is age, with its incidence increasing in Americans 65 and older.
“The study confirms that men are more likely to have PD than women and that the number of people diagnosed with PD increases with age, regardless of gender,” according to the Parkinson’s Foundation website. .
Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder
There are normally neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain that produce a chemical called dopamine, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation website.
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“The most prominent signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease occur when nerve cells in the basal ganglia, an area of the brain that controls movement, become impaired and/or die,” according to the Institute’s website. National Aging.
Parkinson’s disease has four main symptoms, including tremor, muscle stiffness, slow movements and difficulty with balance.
Parkinson’s disease has four main symptoms, including tremor, muscle stiffness, slow movements and difficulty with balance, often leading to falls.
One of the first signs of Parkinson’s disease is a “pill rolling tremor” that “feels like you’re trying to roll a pill or other small object between your thumb and index finger,” according to the website. Healthline.
As Parkinson’s disease progresses, a classic sign is a “shuffling gait”.
This is when a person begins to take smaller, shuffling steps, Healthline added.
Some regions of the United States have shown a “higher incidence” of PD
The prevalence of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease differs in some parts of the country, the study notes, but more research is needed to better understand this trend.
“A cluster of counties with a higher incidence of PD was observed at the juxtaposition of the Midwestern and Southern regions of the United States,” the authors said.
“Parkinson’s rates will continue to rise as the population grows and ages. However, these factors alone cannot explain the rapid increase in cases.”
The study found “higher incidence areas” also in southern California, southeastern Texas, central Pennsylvania and Florida.
During that time, he found “low incidence areas” in the “West Mountain Region, Western Midwest, and Extreme Northwest.”
Why is PD more common now?
“Parkinson’s rates will continue to rise as the population grows and ages. However, these factors alone cannot explain the rapid rise in cases,” Okun noted.
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This may explain the higher incidence he found in some parts of the country, however, where there is an older population, such as Florida, where many older Americans are retiring.
The study also noted that exposure to environmental toxins may explain an increased incidence of Parkinson’s disease in regions such as the Rust Belt states, including Ohio and Pennsylvania, which are known for their industrial materials. heavy.
“Scientists have examined whether pesticides, environmental factors, diet and lifestyle are all contributing to the increase in cases, as Parkinson’s disease has recently taken the top spot for the fastest growing neurological disease. fast,” added Okun.
The study also found a surprising protective factor: heavy smokers seem to have a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
The study noted that it is limited by its retrospective design, so it was prone to selection bias, coding errors and misclassifications – and that further research is needed to better understand whether smoking itself carries a reduced risk.
“It’s time for a Warp Speed operation for Parkinson’s disease.”
He also noted that the true incidence of Parkinson’s disease could be higher from 2012 to 2022 due to a decrease in the prevalence of “presumed” protective factors such as smoking and the increased prevalence of risk factors. risk.
The economic burdens of PD
Parkinson’s disease costs patients, families and the US government about $51.9 billion each year, according to a 2019 study published by the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
About a little less than half of this economic burden is attributable to direct medical costs, while a little more than half is related to non-medical costs, such as work absences, lost wages, working hours early and those of caregivers.
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“Economically, these conditions will result in a devastating outcome for the healthcare system, as Medicare and other payers will not be able to meet the billions of dollars in expenditures,” Okun told Fox News Digital.
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“Our rate of spending on Parkinson’s disease research is 10 times lower than what will be needed to accelerate the trajectory of more effective disease-modifying therapies,” he added.
“It’s time for a Warp Speed operation for Parkinson’s disease.”