Parkinson's Disease Facts and Figures

Mehrbakhsh Nilashi, Rabab Ali Abumalloh


Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative condition characterized by multiple systems and various symptoms (Nilashi, Abumalloh, Alyami, Alghamdi, & Alrizq, 2023; Willis et al., 2022). Currently, there are no available methods for modification or prevention (Balestrino & Schapira, 2020; Poewe et al., 2017; Willis et al., 2022). With the demographic shift towards a larger elderly population in Western countries, the public health and economic burdens associated with age-related neurodegenerative diseases have risen significantly, amounting to an estimated economic cost of $52 billion annually in the United States alone (Willis et al., 2022). Notably, advanced age represents the primary and most significant risk factor for the development of Parkinson's disease (Reeve, Simcox, & Turnbull, 2014; Willis et al., 2022).  PD is a progressive condition that tends to worsen over time (Nilashi et al., 2020; Nilashi, Ibrahim, & Ahani, 2016). While there is currently no cure for PD (Ghane, Ang, Nilashi, & Sorooshian, 2022; Olanow & Schapira, 2013), there are therapies and medications available that can help alleviate and manage its symptoms. Some of the common symptoms associated with PD include tremors, painful muscle contractions, and difficulty speaking (WHO, 2023). These symptoms can vary in severity from person to person, and treatment plans are often tailored to address the specific needs and challenges faced by individuals with PD. PD encompasses a spectrum of symptoms, including motor manifestations like slowed movements (bradykinesia), tremors, involuntary muscle movements, rigidity, gait difficulties, and balance issues (Nilashi et al., 2022; Nilashi, Abumalloh, Yusuf, et al., 2023). In addition to these motor symptoms, individuals with PD often contend with a range of non-motor challenges, including cognitive impairment, mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, potential dementia in advanced stages, sleep disturbances, various types of pain, and sensory disturbances (WHO, 2023).

A recent study (Willis et al., 2022) has uncovered that the yearly occurrence of Parkinson's disease (PD) among older adults exceeds current estimates, showing a 50% increase from the previously reported figure of 60,000 annual diagnoses. This peer-reviewed study, which examined the rate of new PD cases or the number of individuals diagnosed with PD each year, was published in the scientific journal "npj Parkinson's Disease" on December 15, 2022. The Parkinson's Foundation initiated the Parkinson's Prevalence Project with the goal of determining a precise estimate of the disease's prevalence, which measures the total number of individuals affected by Parkinson's disease at a specific point in time (Foundation, 2022). According to their findings, it was estimated that as of 2020, approximately 930,000 people were living with Parkinson's disease in the United States. This number is projected to increase significantly to 1.2 million individuals by the year 2030. Additionally, a prior study supported by the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) and various partners unveiled the substantial economic burden of Parkinson's disease in the U.S. The study revealed that Parkinson's imposes an annual cost of $52 billion on the nation, and this financial burden is anticipated to escalate to $80 billion annually by the year 2037 (Yang et al., 2020). These findings highlight the need for a more comprehensive understanding of PD's prevalence and the importance of continued research and awareness in addressing this neurodegenerative condition.

Diagnosing PD is a multifaceted process that does not rely on a single definitive test. Instead, it involves a thorough assessment of a patient's medical history, clinical symptoms, and various medical tests. To establish a formal PD diagnosis, an individual must exhibit bradykinesia along with at least one other motor symptom, typically rigidity and/or tremor. While additional tests, such as a response to levodopa, a dopamine transporter scan, or testing for alpha-synuclein aggregates, can support the diagnosis, they are not always required. Other assessments, including Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Computerized Tomography (CT) scans, and blood tests, may be used to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. Cognitive tests may also be employed to assess thinking abilities, while genetic testing can identify specific mutations in a small percentage of PD cases, offering insights into prognosis and eligibility for clinical trials. Notably, smell tests may help in detecting early signs of PD, but they lack specificity, and not everyone with a loss of smell will develop the disease. Overall, the diagnosis of PD relies on a comprehensive evaluation and a process of elimination to rule out alternative explanations for the observed symptoms.

The complexity and diversity of PD symptoms underline its multifaceted nature, requiring tailored approaches to treatment and management that may include medications, physical therapy, and comprehensive support to enhance the overall well-being of those affected by this neurodegenerative condition. In May 2022, the World Health Assembly officially approved the Intersectoral Global Action Plan for Epilepsy and Other Neurological Disorders for the period 2022-2031 (WHO, 2023). This action plan is designed to tackle the existing challenges and deficiencies in the provision of care and services for individuals affected by epilepsy and other neurological disorders, including conditions like Parkinson's disease, which are prevalent worldwide. It aims to establish a comprehensive and well-coordinated response across various sectors. The key components of this plan encompass elevating policy prioritization, enhancing governance structures, ensuring the delivery of effective, timely, and responsive diagnosis, treatment, and care, implementing strategies for promotion and prevention, encouraging research and innovation, and reinforcing information systems.


Parkinson's Disease, Statistics, Symptoms, Disease's Prevalence

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