Who Gets ALS?

ALS can affect anyone, but our research with The ALS CARE database has found that 60% of patients with the disease are men, 93% are Caucasian. Research has also established that, for unknown reasons, military veterans and athletes are more likely to develop ALS.

Most patients are diagnosed with ALS between the ages of 40-70, but the disease can also develop in younger people. The average age for an ALS diagnosis is 55.

Approximately 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time. Notable individuals who have been diagnosed with ALS include baseball great Lou Gehrig, renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, and former National Football League player Steve Gleason.

While we don’t know the specific cause of ALS, there are two categories for the ways people develop ALS: Sporadic and Familial.

Sporadic ALS occurs in patients who have no family history of the disease. Sporadic ALS is the most common form of the disease in the United States, accounting for 90-95% of all cases. This type of ALS can affect anyone.

In 5-10% of U.S. cases, ALS is genetically inherited, which is known as Familial ALS. In families with Familial ALS, there is a 50% chance that each offspring will inherit the gene mutation that makes it possible for them to develop the disease.