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New Zealand Parkinson's patients to double by 2035

WELLINGTON, July 7 (Xinhua) -- Numbers of people with Parkinson's disease will double over the next 25 years in New Zealand, according to a new study from the Christchurch-based New Zealand Brain Research Institute (NZBRI).

There are at least 9,500 people in New Zealand living with Parkinson's disease at present, according to the study which predicts the number will double to 17,500 by 2035, and increase to 24,000 by 2068.

Author Dr Toni Pitcher said she and the team wanted to provide robust data on future need by determining numbers of people with Parkinson's disease which will change in the face of an ageing population. They analyzed pharmaceutical records relating to the condition to calculate numbers.

Pitcher said that as well as being able to predict future need, the study team observed an interesting pattern of disease in older age groups. It was commonly thought the risk of getting Parkinson's increased as age increased. But the study team found risk increased exponentially until age 75, peaked at age 85, then dropped off sharply after that.

Pitcher said that this means, according to population data, the rate of increase in the number of people with Parkinson's will slow down as the proportion of the population reaching the oldest age range (80+ years) increases.

Prof. Tim Anderson, a Christchurch neurologist and part of the NZBRI study research team, said that the study is crucial in planning for the future and ensuring appropriate resources are assigned to treat and support those with chronic and progressive neurological disorders of ageing, such as Parkinson's disease.


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