Neurological disorders are the leading source of disability globally, and ageing in the general population is increasing the burden of neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson’s disease (PD).

PD is a progressive chronic neurodegenerative disorder and is characterised by the progressive loss of muscular control leading to resting tremor, rigidity, akinesia and postural reflex impairment.

Parkinson’s disease is a global pandemic

PD is an age-related disorder; symptoms typically begin to first appear at varying stages in patients in their mid-60s.

PD had been a rare disorder, however, demography and the by-products of industrialisation are now contributing to an impending PD “pandemic.” It is currently understood to affect 1–2% of individuals aged 65 years and older worldwide.

The increase in prevalent cases of PD worldwide is a major reason for researchers to increase efforts in understanding the disease.

A forecast of diagnosed prevalent cases

The horizontal bar chart below presents the diagnosed prevalent cases of PD in men and women ages 18 years and older in the 7MM in 2016 and 2026.

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GlobalData epidemiologists forecast an increase in diagnosed prevalent cases of PD in the 7MM from approximately 2.3 million cases in 2016 to 2.9 million cases in 2026, with an approximate annual growth rate of 2.52% during the forecast period.

The US had the highest number of cases in 2016 with approximately 800,000 cases, while the UK had the lowest number of cases with approximately 100,000 cases.

Diagnosed prevalent cases of Parkinson’s disease in 7MM countries, both sexes, ages 18 years and older, 2016 and 2026

Source: GlobalData
Notes: 7MM = the US, 5EU and Japan. 5EU = France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK. 

Ageing demographics and Parkinson’s disease

The global burden of PD is increasing over time due to the increasing numbers of older people, with potential contributions to the disease burden coming from longer disease duration and environmental factors.

GlobalData did not forecast a change in prevalence and attributed the increase in growth to the underlying changing population dynamics.

However, to address this great health challenge will require action aimed at preventing the disease where feasible and improving the lives of those affected by the condition.

Among the potential responses available are preventing the disease (for example, by increasing physical activity earlier in adulthood and reducing exposure to pesticides), improving worldwide access to care and effective treatments (such as levodopa), increasing funding for research to understand the underlying causes, and developing new therapies.

While the highest regional prevalence of PD seems to be moving from west to east as demographics slowly change, PD is a global concern that is present in every region of the planet.

It is also becoming more prevalent in all regions that scientists have assessed, increasing the urgency of efforts to address this health challenge.