Parkinson's disease is the 14th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's annual analysis of mortality data . The CDC also released data this week showing there was a 4.6% increase in deaths attributable to Parkinson's disease in 2010 (the most recent year for which they have data). While the media is focusing on the fact that homicide has fallen off the list as a leading cause of death, here at PAN, we are focused on what we can do from a policy perspective to one day have Parkinson's no longer appear on the list.
While the CDC's mortality data is a long-standing evaluation tool, what the Parkinson's community has been fighting for is for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to collect and analyze data at a much more detailed level about the incidence and prevalence of Parkinson's and other neurological diseases. This will allow researchers to help identify populations at high risk, recognize related environmental factors, and, when coupled with scientific research breakthroughs, begin to establish prevention strategies. This is critical work that must be done to get the research community closer to better treatments and cures. There is legislation introduced in Congress – called the National Neurological Diseases Surveillance System Act  – to create this data collection system which PAN supports. We also encourage people with Parkinson's to reach out to their Members of Congress to make sure they support it, too.
As our population ages, legislation such as the National Neurological Diseases Surveillance System Act – coupled with strong federal funding overall for research and supportive policies for people and families living with Parkinson's disease – becomes ever more important. Between 500,000 and 1.5 million Americans live with Parkinson's, a disease for which there is no cure or treatment to stop the progression.
The Parkinson's Action Network is the unified voice of the Parkinson's community advocating for better treatments and a cure. In partnership with other Parkinson's organizations and our powerful grassroots network, we educate the public and government leaders on better policies for research and an improved quality of life for people living with Parkinson's disease. Every voice matters, and we encourage you to let yours be heard in 2012 as we continue our work in the nation's capital on behalf of the Parkinson's community.
To learn more and get involved in PAN's work and make a difference, check out the latest Parkinson's news on our website , join our community on Facebook , or follow us on Twitter . Please forward this email to your friends and colleagues and encourage them to get involved – the stronger our voice, the more work we can get done.