Clinical studies, researchers, and policymakers have been using the wrong estimate of Parkinson’s disease prevalence to make critical public health and safety decisions, according to a new study conducted with support from the Parkinson’s Foundation, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF), and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.
The researchers found that the widely-accepted figure of 60,000 total disease diagnoses among older adults per year is inaccurate. Instead, annual incidence rates were actually found to be 50% higher.
This groundbreaking peer-reviewed study was published just last week, on December 15, and could have drastic impacts on a variety of sectors.
“These updated estimates of incidence are necessary for understanding disease risk, planning health care delivery, and addressing care disparities,” explained James Beck, the study’s co-author and chief scientific officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation.
This research also represents the most comprehensive assessment of the disease’s incidence in the United States to date.
The researchers drew on data from five epidemiological cohorts in order to quantify the number of diagnoses in 2012.
Previous incidence rates estimated that between 40,000 and 60,000 cases of Parkinson’s were diagnosed each year.
Through this assessment, though, the true figure was found to be nearly 90,000 cases annually.
Additionally, the primary risk factor for Parkinson’s disease– a progressive nervous system disorder– is age. In turn, the team found that incidence rate estimates grow higher among people in the 65 and older age bracket.