Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Getting an Accurate Read on Parkinson's

New algorithm reveals twice as many sufferers as previously estimated, says TAU researcher

Parkinson's Disease, brought to public awareness by figures such as Michael J. Fox, is not just difficult to diagnose. It's also difficult to accurately estimate how many people actually suffer from the disease. Current statistics come from small-scale studies, usually based on information from hospital clinics, and no registries or formal databases exist to track how many people have the disease.

Dr. Chava Peretz of Tel Aviv University's School of Public Health at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Ph.D. student Orly Chillag-Talmor from Haifa University and researchers from Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and Maccabi Healthcare Services have devised a unique algorithm to more precisely determine the size of a population that suffers from the disease. This will permit researchers to better prepare for the consequences to public health, and provide more realistic estimates on how much it will cost to treat this growing number of patients.

The researchers have developed a refined drug-tracer algorithm. Based upon a patient's medication history, it assigns them to one of three potential categories of Parkinson's sufferers: those who definitely have the disease, those who probably have it, and those who only possibly have it. The algorithm identifies patients in each of these categories with 95 percent accuracy. The results of the research recently appeared in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease.

Sifting through a decade of prescriptions

It has been estimated that one percent of the population over the age of 60 suffers from Parkinson's, but Dr. Peretz questioned this estimate, believing that the numbers might be far greater.

Their algorithm is based on four factors: the kind of anti-Parkinson drug prescribed; the age at which the patient was first entered into the system; the length of the follow-up period; and the number and continuity of drug purchases. They then compared her results to the database of purchased pharmaceuticals from Israel's second largest HMO, Maccabi Health Care. This database comprises ten years' worth of prescriptions, representing about 25 percent of the population.

Researchers were searching for both prevalent cases (the number of people currently living with Parkinson's) and incident cases (the number of people each year newly diagnosed with the disease). "Based on this algorithm," Dr. Peretz explains, "we identified about 7,000 Parkinson's disease prevalent cases and about 5,000 incident cases in the study period."

These results, notes Dr. Peretz, represented a departure from previously accepted statistics and confirmed her suspicions. The team determined that the prevalence rate for the population was one percent for patients over 50 years of age, two percent for those over 60, and three percent for ages 70 and above — twice the previous estimation. In addition, the mean age at time of first diagnosis was found to be around 70 years, rather than 60 years.

To confirm the results, Dr. Peretz and her fellow researchers carried out a validity test with Maccabi patients at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center's Movement Disorder Clinic. The algorithm managed to accurately identify 95 percent of the patients, she says.

A warning for public health professionals

Dr. Peretz points to misdiagnoses as one of the causes of poor information on Parkinson's. Not only is the prevalence rate of Parkinson's higher than previously thought, but the rate is growing by six percent yearly. There are on average 33 new cases for every 100,000 people per year. This spells trouble for governmental public health agencies, which will shoulder a heavier burden than they expected in the coming years. "It's a disease that costs a lot, the expectation of life is growing, and we have to prepare," warns Dr. Peretz. "Public health institutions have a responsibility to be aware that these needs will arise."

However, these results also bring good news for those who research the causes of the disease. With more accurate statistics, explains Dr. Peretz, other researchers can explore various determinates of the disease and possible risk factors, such as those related to environmental exposure, occupation and lifestyle.

This work was partly supported by the Environment and Health Fund, Jerusalem, Israel.

George Hunka | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected

20.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>