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July 10, 2014 11:20 am

Study: Israeli ALS Patients Survive Longer Than Anywhere in the World

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An MRI image demonstrating an increased T2 signal within the posterior part of the internal capsule of the brain, consistent with the clinical diagnosis of ALS. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. – A new study found that the survival rate among Israelis suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS) is two to four times greater than that of patients in other countries.

In global terms, between 5 and 10 percent of ALS sufferers survive more than 10 years after being diagnosed. But in Israel, 20 percent of ALS patients survive longer than a decade. ALS is a degenerative disease with no known cure.

The epidemiology department of the Maccabi health maintenance organization ordered a study encompassing 456 patients diagnosed with ALS between 1997 and 2013. The study revealed that approximately half of the patients survived at least five years after being diagnosed, 40 percent survived at least eight years after being diagnosed, and more than 20 percent survived more than 10 years.

The Israeli survival rate is significantly higher than that of the rest of the world, which could explain why the prevalence of ALS cases in Israel—11 cases per 100,000 people—is considered high by Western standards. In Europe, the incidence of ALS is four to eight cases per 100,000 people, and in the U.S. it is three to four per 100,000.

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