While Parkinson’s disease has generally been considered one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases, a new study reports the disease may be much more prevalent than previously thought.
A new study published in the journal npj Parkinson Disease on Dec. 15 reported 90,000 annual cases among adults 65 and older, making it the second most common age-related brain condition in North America. This incident count, however, is 50% higher than past data.
According to the study, previous data showed only 40,000 to 60,000 annual incidences of Parkinson’s. The spike in cases since 2010, the study said, could be due to improved detection, increased clinical recognition and the effect of risk factors.
The spike in cases … could be due to improved detection, increased clinical recognition and the effect of risk factors.
The study suggests that current cases may be even higher than reported, due to lower rates of protective factors, like smoking and increased rates of risk factors, like diabetes, cognitive dysfunction, lack of physical activity and pesticides. Officials also said the higher numbers could reflect greater clinical recognition of PD symptoms in older adults with pre-existing conditions.
“In contrast, PD incidence trends from 2012 to now may be negatively affected by reduced community and occupational exposure to environmental toxicants or lower case ascertainment due to COVID-related changes in health care-seeking behavior,” the study reads.
The study also showed that PD cases increase with age and are higher in males.
“Age standardized PD incidence estimates for ages 65 and older ranged from 108 to 212 per 100,000 person-years, from 162 to 277 among males, and from 66 to 161 among females,” the study reported.
Cases also vary depending on where you live. For example, the region that includes Southern California, Southern Texas, Central Pennsylvania and Florida showed a higher number of cases than the Mountain West, Western Midwest and far Northeast regions.
“The persistence of the Parkinson’s disease belt in the U.S. might be due to population, health care or environmental factors,” Allison Willis, MD, lead author of the study, said in a press release. “Understanding the source of these variations will be important for health care policy, research and care planning.”
According to the study, uncovering more factors related to increased PD incidence could change how it’s treated.
“There is a need for improved estimates of PD incidence, not only for care delivery planning and future policy but also for increasing our understanding of disease risk,” the study reads.