Who Gets ALS?
ALS is a disorder that affects the function of nerves and muscles. Based on U.S. population studies, a little over5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. (That's 15 new cases a day.) It is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time. According to the ALS CARE Database, 60% of the people with ALS in the Database are men and 93% of patients in the Database are Caucasian.
- ALS occurs throughout the world with no racial, ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries.
- ALS can strike anyone.
- Between 5 and 10 percent of the cases are familial, meaning there is a hereditary component.
- ALS is not contagious
Most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 70, with an average age of 55 at the time of diagnosis. However, cases of the disease do occur in persons in their twenties and thirties. Generally though, ALS occurs in greater percentages as men and women grow older. ALS is 20% more common in men than in women. However with increasing age, the incidence of ALS is more equal between men and women.
There are several research studies – past and present – investigating possible risk factors that may be associated with ALS. More work is needed to conclusively determine what genetics and/or environment factors contribute to developing ALS. It is known, however, that military veterans, particularly those deployed during the Gulf War, are approximately twice as likely to develop ALS.
The National ALS Registry may be the single largest ALS research project ever created and is designed to identify ALS cases from throughout the entire United States.
Each person battling ALS is a hero.
Family, friends, and all those who observe the way ALS patients fight this disease see their courage, resolve, and dignity. Registering and taking the surveys can help make a difference in the lives of those living with ALS today and for generations to come.