Parkinson’s disease affects about 90,000 older Americans each year, an increase of 30,000 from the previous estimate. According to a study published on Thursday.
Infection rates vary across the country. States with higher rates of older residents saw more diagnoses of the disease, whose risk generally increases with age, as do some “Rust Belt” states with a history of heavy industry in the Northeast and Midwest.
Rising rates of Parkinson’s disease, treatment costs and lost income mean everyone will be affected directly or indirectly by the disease, said Dr. Michael Okun, chief of neurology at the School of Medicine from the University of Florida in Gainesville.
“This type of disease can bankrupt the health system,” said Okun, who was not involved in the research but serves as a medical advisor to the Parkinson’s Foundation. “It’s something we should all be paying attention to.”
What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative syndrome that results in the slow loss of brain circuits involved with movement, thought, and behavior. It can cause tremors, stiffness, slowness, and falls, as well as anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances.
Among the celebrities with Parkinson’s is actor Michael J. Fox and Alan Alda, boxer Muhammad Ali, and singers Linda Ronstadt and Neil Diamond.
How many people live with Parkinson’s disease?
The new study suggests that 90,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease annually, up from a previous estimate of 60,000. Okun said the finding is based on five previous published studies including data up to 2012, so it is likely an underestimate.
According to research, men are twice as likely to be diagnosed, and the incidence generally increases after the age of 60.
A 2018 study from the Parkinson’s Disease Prevalence Project estimated 930,000 people in the United States will be living with Parkinson’s disease by 2020 and 1.2 million by 2030, largely due to population aging.
Determining the incidence rate could help lawmakers get more money for companies to invest in Parkinson’s research and treatments, said Jim Beck, co-author of the study and chief scientific officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation, which has created the Michael J. . Fox helped fund the new study. Foundation and Clinical Institute of Osteopathic Sciences.
“We want to use this data to encourage policy makers to reconsider how much funding Parkinson’s disease is receiving and its impact on society,” he said. “There’s a real call to action here.”
Why do rates go up?
The simplest answer is that Americans are getting older. This probably explains the higher rates in states like Florida, which are popular destinations for retirees.
There’s also a strange link between smoking and Parkinson’s disease, Beck said, because heavy smokers seem to be less likely to develop the disease.
As smoking rates fell, rates of Parkinson’s disease rose, he said, although smoking may be a sign of more than smoking as a protective factor.
The increase in places such as Ohio and Pennsylvania may be driven by a variety of factors, including increased awareness and environmental toxins from heavy industry.
Could environmental factors also contribute?
Research is still in its infancy, but Parkinson’s disease specialist Ray Dorsey concludes that the disease is progressing faster than aging itself, so there are other factors, perhaps environmental.
However, some research has implicated the insecticide paraquat. Not all studies confirm this link. There are ongoing lawsuits against paraquat manufacturers by people with Parkinson’s disease who have no family history or detectable genetic cause of the disease, but who were exposed to paraquat before developing Parkinson’s disease, Dorsey said.
Air pollution can also increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease, Dorsey said, as can trichlorethylene, or TCE, a Parkinson’s virus-reducing agent.
Why is this distribution of subjects important?
Beck said knowing where Parkinson’s disease is most likely to occur could help officials direct funding and care. “Do we have neurologists stationed where these people are?”
It can also target areas with high search rate and pilot employment, he added.
How much does Parkinson’s disease cost in the United States?
Beck said each family that develops Parkinson’s disease costs about $26,000 annually to treat the disease, far more than is spent on heart disease and diabetes.
Michael J. An earlier study by the Fox Foundation and others found that Parkinson’s disease costs $52 billion annually and will cost $80 billion annually by 2037.
The federal government now spends more than $200 million a year to treat Parkinson’s disease. But Okun said investments of $3 billion a year are needed to find viable treatments, better understand the disease and learn how to prevent it.
Beck said the increased research funding also helps attract more scientific talent to the field. “If they see that Parkinson’s research is getting harder to do because there isn’t a lot of money available, they will go elsewhere.”
Contact Karen Weintraub at [email protected]
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