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Parkinson’s Cases Have Been Underestimated by 50%

The incidence of Parkinson’s disease among older Americans has been underestimated for years – by a stunning 50%. 

That pushes the number of new Parkinson’s diagnoses up to 90,000 annually, according to a new study. It also reports that new Parkinson’s cases are: 

  • Increasing among people 65 and over 
  • More common among males than females in all age groups 
  • Higher in certain areas of the country, namely the “Rust Belt,” Southern California, Southeastern Texas, Central Pennsylvania and Florida.  

Delving Deeper into Data 

The new study – the most complete assessment of Parkinson’s in North America – was jointly supported by the Parkinson’s Foundation, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. 

Researchers re-examined data going back to five separate studies done in 2012 and discovered inaccurate and incomplete reporting. The study’s authors cautioned that since the number of annual cases was figured retroactively, the new estimated rate of 90,000 cases per year could possibly be low.  

It’s “a clear call to lawmakers,” according to Brian Fiske, PhD, co-author of the study and chief scientific officer at the Michael J. Fox Foundation. They have the ability to “implement policies that will lessen the burden of Parkinson’s Disease on American families and programs like Medicare and Social Security.” 

Action to End Parkinson’s Disease 

Parkinson’s is a relentlessly progressive and incurable neurodegenerative disease. Although substantial progress has been made in relieving the symptoms, so far medical science is not able to stop the progression of the disease or prevent its onset. And the exact cause remains a mystery. 

This fuels the Parkinson’s community to advocate for increased federal research funding to improve early diagnosis, determine more effective treatments and find a cure. The National Plan to End Parkinson’s Act would also spur the creation of one, coordinated national plan to prevent and cure Parkinson’s.  

The bill attracted bipartisan support in the House and Senate in 2022, but it will have to be reintroduced in the new Congress. Meanwhile, the expanded scope of people affected by Parkinson’s leaves no doubt that concerted action is needed. 

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