Study: US Parkinson's Disease Prevalence 50% Higher Than Prior Estimates

According to a study published on Thursday, Parkinson's disease annually strikes nearly 90K Americans aged 65 and over – about 30K more than earlier estimates. At all ages, the incidence was higher in men than in women, the study found.

Study: US Parkinson's Disease Prevalence 50% Higher Than Prior Estimates
Image credit: Robina Weermeijer / Unsplash

Facts

  • According to a study published on Thursday, Parkinson's disease annually strikes nearly 90K Americans aged 65 and over – about 30K more than earlier estimates. At all ages, the incidence was higher in men than in women, the study found.
  • US studies conducted in the mid-1980s estimated nearly 60K people are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease each year. In 2020, the estimates grew closer to 86K.
  • Documenting the rising incidence rates can aid advocacy groups to "invest in more research toward better treatments, a cure, and prevention," claim researchers. The findings may help shed light on Parkinson's "hot spots" where more resources may be needed to provide adequate health care services.
  • The researchers suggested an aging US population greatly influences these numbers. This year's estimate may be paradoxically higher due to lower smoking rates, as well as increased risks from environmental toxins, and better awareness of Parkinson's symptoms.
  • A 2018 prevalence study estimated that approximately 1M US residents had Parkinson's disease in 2020. According to the Census Bureau population projections, the number is expected to reach over 1.2M by 2030.
  • Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder in the US after Alzheimer’s. The public health and economic cost of Parkinson's disease have increased by about $52B per year in the US alone.

Sources: USA Today, Reuters, Med Page Today, Ex Bulletin, and Fox 59.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Web MD. The findings that Parkinson's rates are higher in the "Rust Belt" states of the US suggest a link between exposure to environmental toxins, such as pesticides and heavy metals, and an increased risk. We must look into the impact of industrialization on Parkinson's risk to explain why some people with genetic risk factors for the disease get it in some geographic regions while others don't.
  • Narrative B, as provided by New York Times. Environmental factors are important to explore, but there's a clear causal link between rising economic debt and critical illnesses like cancer, heart disease, and lung disease. Parkinson's is a costly disease for patients and their caregivers to treat. Broader research and state intervention are needed on the correlation between this debilitating disease and economic stress.