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January 27, 1999

Understanding Parkinson Disease

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry, University of California, Los Angeles.

JAMA. 1999;281(4):376-378. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-281-4-jed80123

PARKINSON DISEASE (PD) is second only to Alzheimer disease in frequency as a neurodegenerative disorder in the United States. At least a half a million Americans are affected, producing an annual societal cost of $20 billion.1 Most cases of PD begin after age 50 years and there is an increasing age-related prevalence to at least age 80 years. Among individuals older than 70 years, 1.5% to 2.5% have PD.2 With the increasing age of the population and growth of the number of elderly individuals, a substantial increase in PD can be anticipated. This changing demographic creates a scientific imperative to better understand the causes of PD and improve management of its symptoms.