What Is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis? - Page 2

By Stephanie Watson @WatsonWriter
November 10, 2017

How many people have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis?

About 12,000 to 15,000 people in the United States have ALS, and 5,000 are receive an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis diagnosis each year. These numbers may not be entirely accurate, though. Exact statistics for this disease are difficult to calculate. “Because records on ALS have not been kept throughout the country, it is hard to estimate the number of ALS cases in the United States,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC.

What causes amyotrophic lateral sclerosis?

Doctors don’t know what causes most cases of ALS. About 5 to 10 percent of people with the disease inherit a gene mutation that causes amyotrophic lateral sclerosis symptoms. If one of your parents has ALS, you have a 50-50 chance of inheriting the disease.

People with ALS have higher than normal levels of glutamate in their brain. Glutamate is a chemical messenger that can be toxic to nerve cells in large amounts.

You’re more likely to get ALS between the ages of 40 and 70. Women are slightly more likely to get the condition than men.


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March 16, 2020

Reviewed By:  

Christopher Nystuen, MD, MBA