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Each year, about 60,000 Americans receive a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, a devastating neurological condition that can destroy motor skills and the ability to speak. Patients with the disease, also called Parkinson disease or PD, may display tremors, difficulty walking, dementia, hallucinations, stiffened limbs and slurred speech. The cause: nerve cells that have stopped producing dopamine, a chemical that coordinates the body's muscle function. Most people who are diagnosed with the disease are over 65, but 15 percent are under 50. Celebrity patients, such as actor Michael J.

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Although many Americans may fear cancer more, heart disease is actually the leading cause of death in the United States. In an era of pacemakers and artificial hearts, cardiovascular ailments remain a leading cause of disability, with more than 81 million Americans living with some form of the disease in 2006, according to the American Heart Association. Updated February 2010

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Epidemiology is the study of the distribution of disease in a population, the factors that influence the distribution, and methods to control health problems. Epidemiology provides the measurable evidence that lays the foundation for medicine and public health policy. It is based on the premise that disease, illness and poor health do not occur randomly in the population. Rather, environmental exposures and individual susceptibility influence whether and how much disease occurs.

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This story talks about how agencies working on HIV and AIDS prevention efforts in Chicago have to rely on dated records on the disease's prevalence while the Chicago Department of Public Health labors to release the latest epidemiological data.

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The worldwide diabetes epidemic threatens to make today's children the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents.

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Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman is the principal investigator of PharmedOut, an educational campaign aimed at showing physicians how marketing influences their prescribing decisions. Originally funded by the Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant, PharmedOut, among other things, offers continuing medical education to doctors, allowing them to earn credits without taking courses funded by drug or device companies.

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We continue our 5-part series on the high cost of health care in America.

Picture of Natalie Walsh

We continue our 5-part series on the high cost of health care in America.

Picture of Natalie Walsh

We continue our 5-part series on the high cost of health care in America.

Picture of Heather Chambers

The world’s best-selling drugs lower cholesterol, reduce heartburn and treat depression. Pharmaceutical companies rake in tens of billions of dollars a year (Lipitor alone brought in $13.6 billion in global sales in 2006) by reaching millions of patients in the and others abroad. Meanwhile, patients with rare diseases and lesser known conditions wait on better treatments as companies find ways to make a profit on their drugs.

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