Parkinson’s disease affects thousands more Americans than previous estimates: new study

In the United States, about 90,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) each year — a roughly 50% increase from previous estimated incidence rates to 2022, according to a recent study supported by the Parkinson’s Foundation.

“The rising number of Parkinson’s cases will lead to more falls, more hip fractures and more people who need assisted living,” said Dr. Michael S. Okun, director of the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Disorders at UF Health in Gainesville, Fla., told Fox News Digital.

He is also a medical advisor to the Parkinson 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 sample 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.

"The rising number of Parkinson's cases will mean more falls, more hip fractures and more people in need of assisted living." said one medical expert.

“The rising number of Parkinson’s cases will lead to more falls, more hip fractures and more people who need assisted living,” said a medical expert.
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“Previous estimates were based on a small number of cases from areas that are not representative of the nation as a whole,” the Parkinson’s Foundation website says.

“The previous prevalence study, conducted 40 years ago, extrapolated the 26 people with PD in a rural Mississippi county as a benchmark estimate for US PD prevalence.”

“Men are more likely to have PD than women, and the number of those diagnosed with PD increases with age.”

The website 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 US have Parkinson’s disease.

According to the Parkinson Foundation, more than 10 million people are living with the disease worldwide.

PD is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the United States – with Alzheimer’s disease leading the way. 1.

The main risk for PD is age — with incidence increasing in Americans age 65 and older, according to the study.

The primary risk factor for Parkinson's disease is age — incidence is increasing in Americans age 65 and older, according to a new study.

The primary risk factor for Parkinson’s disease is age — incidence is increasing in Americans age 65 and older, according to a new study.
(iStock)

“The study confirms that men are more likely to develop Parkinson’s than women and that the number of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s increases with age, regardless of gender,” the Parkinson’s Foundation website says.

Parkinson’s is a movement disorder

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation website, there are normally neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain that produce a chemical called dopamine.

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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 National Institutes of Aging website.

Parkinson’s has four main symptoms – including tremors, muscle stiffness, slow movements and balance problems.

Parkinson’s has four main symptoms, including tremors, muscle stiffness, slow movements and poor balance, which often lead to falls.

One of the earliest signs of Parkinson’s is a “pill-rolling tremor,” which “looks like you’re trying to roll a pill or other small object between your thumb and forefinger,” according to the Healthline website.

The new study of Parkinson's found that the prevalence of people diagnosed with the disease varies in certain parts of the country - but that more research is needed to better understand the trend.

The new study of Parkinson’s found that the prevalence of people diagnosed with the disease varies in certain parts of the country – but that more research is needed to better understand the trend.
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As Parkinson’s progresses, a classic sign is a “shuffling gait.”

That’s when a person starts taking smaller steps in a shuffling fashion, Healthline added.

Some areas of the US showed a “higher incidence” of PD

The prevalence of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s differs in certain parts of the country, the study found – but more research is needed to better understand this trend.

“A cluster of counties with a higher incidence of PD was observed when comparing the Midwestern and Southern regions of the United States,” the authors said.

“Parkinson’s rates will continue to increase as the population grows and ages. However, these factors alone cannot explain the rapid increase in cases.”

The study also found “areas of higher incidence” in southern California, southeast Texas, central Pennsylvania and Florida.

Meanwhile, “areas of lower incidence” have been found in the “Mountain West region, western Midwest and far 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 increase in cases,” Okun noted.

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However, this could explain the higher incidence in parts of the country where there is an older population, such as For example, in Florida, where many older Americans are retiring.

The study also found that exposure to environmental toxins could explain an increased incidence of Parkinson’s in areas like the Rust Belt states, including Ohio and Pennsylvania, known for their heavy industrial materials.

"Scientists have looked at whether pesticides, environmental factors, diet and lifestyle are all contributing to the increase in cases" of Parkinson's disease in the US, a doctor told Fox News Digital.

“Scientists have looked at whether pesticides, environmental factors, diet and lifestyle are all contributing to the growing cases of Parkinson’s disease in the United States,” a doctor told Fox News Digital.
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“Scientists have looked at whether pesticides, environmental factors, diet and lifestyle are all contributing to the increase in cases, as Parkinson’s recently took the top spot for the fastest growing neurological disease,” Okun added.

The study also found a surprising protective factor: Heavy smokers appear to have a lower risk of Parkinson’s.

The study noted that it was limited by its retrospective design and was therefore prone to selection bias, miscoding and misclassification — and that more research is needed to better understand whether smoking itself leads to reduced risk.

“It’s time for surgery Warp Speed ​​for Parkinson’s.”

It was also found that the actual incidence of PD from 2012 to 2022 could be higher due to a lower prevalence of “putative” protective factors such as smoking and the increased prevalence of risk factors.

The economic burden of PD

Parkinson’s disease costs patients, families and the US government approximately $51.9 billion each year, according to a 2019 study published by the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

About slightly less than half of this economic burden is attributable to direct medical costs, slightly more than half to non-medical costs such as loss of work, loss of wages, early and care time.

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“Economically, these conditions will result in devastating health care outcomes as Medicare and other payers will be unable to keep up with billions of dollars in spending,” Okun told Fox News Digital.

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“Our rate of spending on research into Parkinson’s disease is 10 times less than what would be required to accelerate the path to more effective disease-modifying therapies,” he added.

“It’s time for surgery Warp Speed ​​for Parkinson’s.”

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