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How Common Is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common degenerative neurological disorder after Alzheimer’s disease. It is estimated that PD affects 1 percent of the population over the age of 60. A small percentage of people with PD (4 percent of all cases) are diagnosed before the age of 50.1-3 Overall, as many as 1 million Americans are living with PD, and approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with PD each year.1-3

The exact number of people who have PD is difficult to determine because many people do not get diagnosed in the early stages of the disease. In addition, diagnosis can be complicated and other conditions can produce similar symptoms. There is no definitive test for PD, so sometimes people with PD may get misdiagnosed, or people with other conditions may be incorrectly diagnosed with PD.2

Who is affected by Parkinson’s disease?

Several studies have found that the incidence of PD is much more common in men than women.2,4 One estimate found that PD affects about 50 percent more men than women.2 The reasons for the differences in men and women with PD are unclear, although some suggested explanations are the protective effect of estrogen in women, the higher rate of minor head trauma and exposure to occupational toxins in men, and genetic susceptibility genes on the sex chromosomes.4

People with a close family member with Parkinson’s have a small increased risk (2 percent to 5 percent) of developing the disease. About 15 percent to 25 percent of people with PD have a known relative with the disease.2

It is estimated that about 10 million people worldwide are living with PD. The incidence of the disease is higher in industrialized countries.3,4

The incidence of PD increases with age: while PD affects 1 percent of the population over the age of 60, this increases to 5 percent of the population over the age of 85.1

Approximately 5 percent of people with PD are diagnosed before the age of 60.1

Several studies have found that PD is more common in Whites than in Blacks or Asians. It is estimated that the prevalence of PD is 50 percent lower in Blacks and Asians than in Whites. However, the highest incidence of PD is found in Hispanics, followed by non-Hispanic Whites, Asians, and Blacks. According to one older study, the incidence of PD in Hispanics is 16.6 per 100,000 persons, compared to 13.6 per 100,000 in non-Hispanic Whites, 11.3 per 100,000 in Asians, and 10.2 per 100,000 in Blacks.5,6

Urban areas have a higher prevalence and incidence of PD.5

Projected estimates of Parkinson’s disease with aging population

As the life expectancy has increased worldwide, it is expected that the burden of chronic diseases, like PD, will continue to grow. (PD is largely diagnosed in people over the age of 60.) It is estimated that the number of people with PD in 2005 totaled between 4.1 million and 4.6 million and that number will more than double by 2030 to between 8.7 million and 9.3 million.7

Mortality from Parkinson’s disease

With treatment, the life expectancy of people with PD is similar to that of the general population. However, dementia seems to largely impact life expectancy among people with PD, and about 50 percent to 80 percent of people with PD develop dementia in their lifetime. Risk factors for mortality include later age of onset, male sex, severity of motor impairment, presence of psychotic symptoms, and dementia. Early detection of disease, prevention of motor symptom progression, and treatment of dementia can increase life expectancy.8,9

Written by: Emily Downward & Jessica Johns Pool | Last reviewed: September 2019
  1. Reeve A, Simcox E, Turnbull D. Ageing and Parkinson’s disease: why is advancing age the biggest risk factor? Ageing Res. Rev., 2014 Mar;14(100):19–30.
  2. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health. Parkinson’s Disease. NIH Publication No. 15-139. Dec 2014. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Hope-Through-Research/Parkinsons-Disease-Hope-Through-Research. Accessed 9/19/19.
  3. Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. Available at: https://www.parkinson.org/Understanding-Parkinsons/Statistics. Accessed 9/19/19.
  4. Wirdefeldt K, Adami HO, Cole P, Trichopoulos D, Mandel J. Epidemiology and etiology of Parkinson's disease: a review of the evidence. Eur J Epidemiol. 2011 Jun;26 Suppl 1:S1-58.
  5. Wright Willis A, Evanoff BA, Lian M, Criswell SR, Racette BA. Geographic and ethnic variation in Parkinson disease: a population-based study of US Medicare beneficiaries. Neuroepidemiology. 2010;34(3):143-51.
  6. Van Den Eeden SK, Tanner CM, Bernstein AL, Fross RD, Leimpeter A, Bloch DA, Nelson LM. Incidence of Parkinson's disease: variation by age, gender, and race/ethnicity. Am J Epidemiol. 2003 Jun 1;157(11):1015-1022.
  7. Dorsey ER, Constantinescu R, Thompson JP, Biglan KM, Holloway RG, Kieburtz K, Marshall FJ, Ravina BM, Schifitto G, Siderowf A, Tanner CM. Projected number of people with Parkinson disease in the most populous nations, 2005 through 2030. Neurology. 2007 Jan 30;68(5):384-6.
  8. Forsaa EB, Larsen JP, Wentzel-Larsen T, Alves G. What predicts mortality in Parkinson’s disease?: A prospective population-based long-term study. Neurology. 2010 Oct 5;75(14):1270-6.
  9. Alzheimer’s Association. Parkinson's Disease Dementia. Available at: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-dementia/types-of-dementia/parkinson-s-disease-dementia. Accessed 9/19/19.