Who Gets ALS?

ALS is a disorder that affects the function of nerves and muscles. Based on U.S. population studies, a little over 5,600 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.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a relatively rare neurological disorder. Its prevalence varies by region, and it's estimated to affect approximately two to four people per 100,000 in the general population. ALS is a global phenomenon, affecting individuals in various countries and regions around the world. The prevalence is relatively consistent in most countries, but it can vary to some extent.

There are some geographical variations in the prevalence of ALS. For example, countries in the western world, including the United States and Europe, tend to report higher prevalence rates. It's worth noting that these variations can be influenced by factors such as genetics, environmental factors, and diagnostic criteria.

ALS primarily affects adults, and the risk of developing the disease increases with age. It typically strikes individuals in mid-life, between the ages of 40 and 70. ALS is slightly more common in men than in women.

A small percentage of ALS cases, around 5-10%, are categorized as familial ALS (FALS), where the disease is inherited within families due to specific genetic mutations. The majority of ALS cases are considered sporadic, with no clear genetic link.

The incidence of ALS refers to the number of new cases diagnosed in a given population within a specified period. The incidence of ALS is estimated to be around 1-2 cases per 100,000 people per year.

Notable individuals who have been diagnosed with ALS include:

  • Baseball great Lou Gehrig
  • Theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author Stephen Hawking
  • Hall of Fame pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter
  • U.S. Senator Jacob Javits
  • Actor David Niven
  • "SpongeBob SquarePants" creator Stephen Hillenburg
  • "Sesame Street" creator Jon Stone
  • Jazz musician Charles Mingus
  • Singer/songwriter Kim Shattuck (The Muffs)
  • Bassist Mike Porcaro (Toto)
  • Musician Huddie Ledbetter (Lead Belly)
  • Theatre producer Jenifer Estess
  • Boxing champion Ezzard Charles
  • NBA Hall of Fame basketball player George Yardley
  • Golf caddie Bruce Edwards
  • Photographer Eddie Adams
  • Entertainer Dennis Day
  • Former U.S. Vice President Henry A. Wallace
  • U.S. Army General Maxwell Taylor
  • NFL football player Steve Gleason
  • NFL football player O.J. Brigance
  • NFL football player Tim Shaw
  • Musician John Driskell Hopkins (Zac Brown Band)
  • Singer Roberta Flack


People are diagnosed each year


Of cases have no genetic cause 


Age range most people develop ALS