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Getting an accurate read on Parkinson's
Date:6/29/2011

Tel Aviv 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
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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