Men Are More Likely To Have Parkinson’s Disease, Here’s How You Can Help Spread Awareness

While June is behind us and with it Men’s Health Month, it is still important to think about the health and safety of the men in our lives. During the month of June, health care providers, policymakers, and other stakeholders conduct outreach and educational activities to improve awareness of health problems that impact men and boys and encourage them to get regular medical advice and early treatment.

Unfortunately, some common medical conditions disproportionately affect men. Parkinson’s, for example, affects around 1 million Americans and is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder in the U.S. According to the Alliance for Aging Research’s (AAR), a leading nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C. focused on aging populations, recently released Silver Book on Parkinson’s disease, men are 1.37 times more likely to have the condition than women.  With approximately 60,000 new cases each year, there is still a lot more we can do to tackle this debilitating disease.

The impact of Parkinson’s goes beyond just the symptoms, as a recent study commissioned by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research found. Annual costs from the disease add up to a staggering $51.9 billion. Nearly half ($25.4 billion) comes from direct medical costs such as hospitalizations, while $26.5 billion results from the indirect costs such as disability income, reduced employment, and social productivity loss among others.

Numbers, however, cannot fully capture the reality of living with the disease. The complex, progressive nature of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s takes a serious toll on patients, slowly and continuously eroding their ability to do daily tasks and participate in social activities and interactions. This impacts patients as well as their families and caregivers who go through the pain of watching a loved one’s condition deteriorate and struggle with the financial burden from additional medical expenses.

The immense burden of Parkinson’s makes comprehensive research and advances in treatment even more critical for meeting patient needs. Recent strides in gene therapies have the potential to transform treatment and quality of life for Parkinson’s patients, and the release of resources like AAR’s Silver Book helps raise awareness of the impact of these devastating diseases and elevate the need for greater investment in new treatments.

Beyond investment in medical research and treatment options, education is key to fostering better awareness, prevention, and caregiving for Parkinson’s. These initiatives are key to ensuring that men are aware of the symptoms of diseases that impact them more than women. Increasing knowledge, of course, goes hand in hand with building good habits. Making time for regular preventative check-ups and leading a more active lifestyle can make a world of difference in staving off Parkinson’s and other diseases.

Above all, now is the time to raise awareness and continue the conversation about the health issues that affect men and their families in all seasons of life. Diseases like Parkinson’s have an immense impact on the physical, emotional, and financial lives of countless families across the country. By providing men with the education, tools, and treatment they need to lead healthier lives, we can give families the chance to spend a bit more time making more of those meaningful summer memories.

Eric Venker, M.D.

View posts by Eric Venker, M.D.
Eric Venker, M.D., is the Chief Operating Officer of Roivant Sciences.

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