The first estimates for Lou Gherig’s disease have been assessed by the government, and it suggest that how rare the health issue is. Findings show 12,000 cases have been confirmed in the United States.
Scientists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention set out to determine the prevalence of the disease, otherwise known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); a devastating medical condition where the nerve cells hits the brain and spinal cord, resulting in uncontrolled voluntary muscle movements.
From October 19, 2010 to December 21, 2011, scientists used a two-pronged approach to detect ALS cases throughout the nation. First off, the registry tracked data from Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans Health Administration and the Veterans Benefits Administration. Secondly, they secured a web portal that was able to detect cases that might have been missed from four databases.
“The main goals of the Registry, as defined by the 2008 ALS Registry Act, are to describe the incidence and prevalence of ALS better, examine risk factors such as environmental and occupational exposures, and characterize the demographics of those living with ALS,” the researchers said, in a news release.
Throughout the collection period, researchers calculated 12,187 cases that translated to a rate of almost four cases per 100,000 Americans. Furthermore, they found that ALS was most common among non-Hispanic white men in their 60s and less common for younger individuals. Interestingly, it was also not typically diagnosed in individuals 80 and older.
“Many hypotheses have been formulated about what causes ALS, including chemical exposures, occupational exposure, military service, infectious agents, nutritional intake, physical activity, and trauma,” the CDC report concluded.