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Parkinson's Disease: Hope Through Research: National …

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that belongs to a group of conditions called movement disorders. It is both chronic, meaning it persists over a long period of time, and progressive, meaning its symptoms grow worse over time. As nerve cells (neurons) in parts of the brain become impaired or die, people may begin to notice problems with movement, tremor, stiffness in the limbs or the trunk of the body, or impaired balance. As these symptoms become more pronounced, people may have difficulty walking, talking, or completing other simple tasks. Not everyone with one or more of these symptoms has PD, as the symptoms appear in other diseases as well. The precise cause of PD is unknown, although some cases of PD are hereditary and can be traced to specific genetic mutations. Most cases are sporadicthat is, the disease does not typically run in families. It is thought that PD likely results from a combination of genetic susceptibility and exposure to one or more unknown environmental factors that trigger the disease. PD is the most common form of parkinsonism[1], in which disorders of other causes produce features and symptoms that closely resemble Parkinsons disease. While most forms of parkinsonism have no known cause, there are cases in which the cause is known or suspected or where the symptoms result from another disorder. No cure for PD exists today, but research is ongoing and medications or surgery can often provide substantial improvement with motor symptoms. [1] Words in italics appear in a Glossary at the end of this information. Parkinson’s disease occurs when nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain die or become impaired. Although many brain areas are affected, the most common symptoms result from the loss of neurons in an area near the base of the brain called the substantia nigra. Normally, the neurons in this area produce an important brain chemical known as dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical messenger responsible for transmitting signals between the substantia nigra and the next “relay station” of the brain, the corpus striatum, to produce smooth, purposeful movement. Loss of dopamine results in abnormal nerve firing patterns within the brain that cause impaired movement. Studies have shown that most people with Parkinson’s have lost 60 to 80 percent or more of the dopamine-producing cells in the substantia nigra by the time symptoms appear, and that people with PD also have loss of the nerve endings that produce the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Norepinephrine, which is closely related to dopamine, is the main chemical messenger of the sympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that controls many automatic functions of the body, such as pulse and blood pressure. The loss of norepinephrine might explain several of the non-motor features seen in PD, including fatigue and abnormalities of blood pressure regulation. The affected brain cells of people with PD contain Lewy bodiesdeposits of the protein alpha-synuclein. Researchers do not yet know why Lewy bodies form or what role they play in the disease. Some research suggests that the cells protein disposal system may fail in people with PD, causing proteins to build up to harmful levels and trigger cell death. Additional studies have found evidence that clumps of protein that develop inside brain cells of people with PD may contribute to the death of neurons. Some researchers speculate that the protein buildup in Lewy bodies is part of an unsuccessful attempt to protect the cell from the toxicity of smaller aggregates, or collections, of synuclein. Genetics. Scientists have identified several genetic mutations associated with PD, including the alpha-synuclein gene, and many more genes have been tentatively linked to the disorder. Studying the genes responsible for inherited cases of PD can help researchers understand both inherited and sporadic cases. The same genes and proteins that are altered in inherited cases may also be altered in sporadic cases by environmental toxins or other factors. Researchers also hope that discovering genes will help identify new ways of treating PD. Environment. Exposure to certain toxins has caused parkinsonian symptoms in rare circumstances (such as exposure to MPTP, an illicit drug, or in miners exposed to the metal manganese). Other still-unidentified environmental factors may also cause PD in genetically susceptible individuals. Mitochondria. Several lines of research suggest that mitochondria may play a role in the development of PD. Mitochondria are the energy-producing components of the cell and abnormalities in the mitochondria are major sources of free radicalsmolecules that damage membranes, proteins, DNA, and other parts of the cell. This damage is often referred to as oxidative stress. Oxidative stress-related changes, including free radical damage to DNA, proteins, and fats, have been detected in the brains of individuals with PD. Some mutations that affect mitochondrial function have been identified as causes of PD. Continue reading



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Parkinson's disease – Medical News Today

knowledge center home parkinsons disease all about parkinsons disease what is parkinsons disease? Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects how the person moves, including how they speak and write. Symptoms develop gradually, and may start off with ever-so-slight tremors in one hand. People with Parkinson’s disease also experience stiffness and find they cannot carry out movements as rapidly as before – this is called bradykinesia. The muscles of a person with Parkinson’s become weaker and the individual may assume an unusual posture. Parkinson’s disease belongs to a group of conditions called movement disorders. Movement disorders describe a variety of abnormal body movements that have a neurological basis, and include such conditions as cerebral palsy, ataxia, and Tourette syndrome. Approximately one million adults in the USA are thought to live with Parkinson’s disease; over 60,000 are diagnosed annually. The real figure is probably much higher when taking into account those who go undetected. According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, the economic toll of the disease in the USA is nearly $25 billion annually, including direct and indirect costs. The average annual medication costs for an American with Parkinson’s disease is between $2,500 and $10,000. In the United Kingdom approximately 127,000 people have Parkinson’s disease – or 1 in every 500 people. About 10 million people around the world are estimated to be living with Parkinson’s disease. A male has a 50% higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease than a female. In the majority of cases, symptoms start to appear after the age of 50. However, in about 4% to 5% of cases the sufferer is younger than 40 years. When signs and symptoms develop in an individual aged between 21 and 40 years, it is known as Young-onset Parkinson’s disease. Apart from tremor and slow movements, the patient may also have a fixed, inexpressive face – this is because of poorer control over facial muscle coordination and movement. Parkinson’s also affects the voice – a British mathematician believes he has created a cheap and easy to carry-out test using speech signal processing algorithms to accelerate the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Max Little, who developed the algorithm at Oxford University, says that Parkinson’s not only impacts on limb movement, but also on how people speak; on their voices. (Link to article) Parkinson’s also affects sense of smell – despite being incurable, doctors today can influence the course of the disease if Parkinson’s is detected early enough; the destruction of brain cells can be slowed down – this means a better quality of life for the patient for many years. Scientists have recently discovered that hyposmia, losing one’s sense of smell for no known cause, might be a marker for the non-motor signs of Parkinson’s disease. The scientists said “Smelling tests in doctors’ offices are suitable for detecting hyposmia, but so too are tests conducted in public places such as pedestrian zones.” (Link to article) Neurologist and co-author, co-author Brad Boeve, M.D., said: Continue reading



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Parkinson's Disease. Symptoms of parkinson's disease | Patient

What is Parkinson’s disease? Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic (persistent, or long-term) disorder of part of the brain. It is named after the doctor who first described it. It mainly affects the way the brain co-ordinates the movements of the muscles in various parts of the body. PD mainly develops in people over the age of 50. It becomes more common with increasing age. About 5 in 1,000 people in their 60s, and about 40 in 1,000 people in their 80s have PD. It affects both men and women but is a little more common in men. Rarely, it develops in people under the age of 50. PD is not usually inherited, and it can affect anyone. However, genetic (hereditary) factors may be important in the small number of people who develop PD before the age of 50. A small part of the brain called the substantia nigra is mainly affected. This area of the brain sends messages down nerves in the spinal cord to help control the muscles of the body. Messages are passed between brain cells, nerves and muscles by chemicals called neurotransmitters. Dopamine is the main neurotransmitter that is made by the brain cells in the substantia nigra. If you have PD, a number of cells in the substantia nigra become damaged and die. The exact cause of this is not known. Over time, more and more cells become damaged and die. As cells are damaged, the amount of dopamine that is produced is reduced. A combination of the reduction of cells and a low level of dopamine in the cells in this part of the brain causes nerve messages to the muscles to become slowed and abnormal. The brain cells and nerves affected in PD normally help to produce smooth, co-ordinated movements of muscles. Therefore, three common Parkinson’s symptoms that gradually develop are: The symptoms tend slowly to become worse. However, the speed in which symptoms become worse varies from person to person. It may take several years before they become bad enough to have much effect on your life. At first, one side of your body may be more affected than the other. Some other symptoms may develop due to problems with the way affected brain cells and nerves control the muscles. These include: Various other symptoms develop in some cases, mainly as the condition becomes worse. These include: Continue reading



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Parkinson's Disease. Symptoms of parkinson's disease | Patient

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Parkinson's Disease Information Page: National Institute …

Parkinson’s disease (PD) belongs to a group of conditions called motor system disorders, which are the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. The four primary symptoms of PD are tremor, or trembling in hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face; rigidity, or stiffness of the limbs and trunk; bradykinesia, or slowness of movement; and postural instability, or impaired balance and coordination. As these symptoms become more pronounced, patients may have difficulty walking, talking, or completing other simple tasks. PD usually affects people over the age of 60. Early symptoms of PD are subtle and occur gradually. In some people the disease progresses more quickly than in others. As the disease progresses, the shaking, or tremor, which affects the majority of people with PD may begin to interfere with daily activities. Other symptoms may include depression and other emotional changes; difficulty in swallowing, chewing, and speaking; urinary problems or constipation; skin problems; and sleep disruptions. There are currently no blood or laboratory tests that have been proven to help in diagnosing sporadic PD. Therefore the diagnosis is based on medical history and a neurological examination. The disease can be difficult to diagnose accurately. Doctors may sometimes request brain scans or laboratory tests in order to rule out other diseases. At present, there is no cure for PD, but a variety of medications provide dramatic relief from the symptoms. Usually, affected individuals are given levodopa combined with carbidopa. Carbidopa delays the conversion of levodopa into dopamine until it reaches the brain. Nerve cells can use levodopa to make dopamine and replenish the brain’s dwindling supply. Although levodopa helps at least three-quarters of parkinsonian cases, not all symptoms respond equally to the drug. Bradykinesia and rigidity respond best, while tremor may be only marginally reduced. Problems with balance and other symptoms may not be alleviated at all. Anticholinergics may help control tremor and rigidity. Other drugs, such as bromocriptine, pramipexole, and ropinirole, mimic the role of dopamine in the brain, causing the neurons to react as they would to dopamine. An antiviral drug, amantadine, also appears to reduce symptoms. In May 2006, the FDA approved rasagiline to be used along with levodopa for patients with advanced PD or as a single-drug treatment for early PD. In some cases, surgery may be appropriate if the disease doesn’t respond to drugs. A therapy called deep brain stimulation (DBS) has now been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In DBS, electrodes are implanted into the brain and connected to a small electrical device called a pulse generator that can be externally programmed. DBS can reduce the need for levodopa and related drugs, which in turn decreases the involuntary movements called dyskinesias that are a common side effect of levodopa. It also helps to alleviate fluctuations of symptoms and to reduce tremors, slowness of movements, and gait problems. DBS requires careful programming of the stimulator device in order to work correctly. PD is both chronic, meaning it persists over a long period of time, and progressive, meaning its symptoms grow worse over time. Although some people become severely disabled, others experience only minor motor disruptions. Tremor is the major symptom for some individuals, while for others tremor is only a minor complaint and other symptoms are more troublesome. It is currently not possible to predict which symptoms will affect an individual, and the intensity of the symptoms also varies from person to person. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) conducts PD research in laboratories at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and also supports additional research through grants to major medical institutions across the country. Current research programs funded by the NINDS are using animal models to study how the disease progresses and to develop new drug therapies. Scientists looking for the cause of PD continue to search for possible environmental factors, such as toxins, that may trigger the disorder, and study genetic factors to determine how defective genes play a role. Other scientists are working to develop new protective drugs that can delay, prevent, or reverse the disease. Continue reading



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Parkinson's disease – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Parkinson’s disease (PD, also known as idiopathic or primary parkinsonism, hypokinetic rigid syndrome (HRS), or paralysis agitans) is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system mainly affecting the motor system. The motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease result from the death of dopamine-generating cells in the substantia nigra, a region of the midbrain. The cause of this cell death is poorly understood. Early in the course of the disease, the most obvious symptoms are movement-related; these include shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement and difficulty with walking and gait. Later, thinking and behavioral problems may arise, with dementia commonly occurring in the advanced stages of the disease, whereas depression is the most common psychiatric symptom. Other symptoms include sensory, sleep and emotional problems. Parkinson’s disease is more common in older people, with most cases occurring after the age of 50; when it is seen in young adults, it is called young onset PD (YOPD). The main motor symptoms are collectively called parkinsonism, or a “parkinsonian syndrome”. The disease can be either primary or secondary. Primary Parkinson’s disease is referred to as idiopathic (having no known cause), although some atypical cases have a genetic origin, while secondary parkinsonism is due to known causes like toxins. Many risks and protective factors have been investigated: the clearest evidence is for an increased risk of PD in people exposed to certain pesticides and a reduced risk in tobacco smokers. The pathology of the disease is characterized by the accumulation of a protein into Lewy bodies in neurons, and from insufficient formation and activity of dopamine in certain parts of the midbrain. Where the Lewy bodies are located is often related to the expression and degree of the symptoms of an individual. Diagnosis of typical cases is mainly based on symptoms, with tests such as neuroimaging being used for confirmation. Treatments are effective at improving the early motor symptoms of the disease. This is typically with the medications L-DOPA and dopamine agonists. As the disease progresses and dopaminergic neurons continue to be lost, these drugs eventually become ineffective at treating the symptoms and at the same time produce a complication marked by involuntary writhing movements. Diet and some forms of rehabilitation have shown some effectiveness at improving symptoms. Surgery and deep brain stimulation have been used to reduce motor symptoms as a last resort in severe cases where drugs are ineffective. Research directions include investigations into new animal models of the disease and of the potential usefulness of gene therapy, stem cell transplants and neuroprotective agents. Medications to treat non-movement-related symptoms of PD, such as sleep disturbances and emotional problems, also exist. In 2013 PD resulted in 103,000 deaths up from 44,000 deaths in 1990.[1] The disease is named after the English doctor James Parkinson, who published the first detailed description in An Essay on the Shaking Palsy in 1817.[2] Several major organizations promote research and improvement of quality of life of those with the disease and their families. Public awareness campaigns include Parkinson’s disease day (on the birthday of James Parkinson, 11 April) and the use of a red tulip as the symbol of the disease. People with parkinsonism who have increased the public’s awareness of the condition include actor Michael J. Fox, Olympic cyclist Davis Phinney, and professional boxer Muhammad Ali. Parkinson’s not only affects humans, but other primates as well, which have often been used in researching the disease and testing approaches to its treatment.[3][4][5] The term parkinsonism is used for a motor syndrome whose main symptoms are tremor at rest, stiffness, slowing of movement and postural instability. Parkinsonian syndromes can be divided into four subtypes according to their origin: Parkinson’s disease is the most common form of parkinsonism and is usually defined as “primary” parkinsonism, meaning parkinsonism with no external identifiable cause.[7][8] In recent years several genes that are directly related to some cases of Parkinson’s disease have been discovered. As much as this conflicts with the definition of Parkinson’s disease as an idiopathic illness, genetic parkinsonism disorders with a similar clinical course to PD are generally included under the Parkinson’s disease label. The terms “familial Parkinson’s disease” and “sporadic Parkinson’s disease” can be used to differentiate genetic from truly idiopathic forms of the disease.[9] Usually classified as a movement disorder, PD also gives rise to several non-motor types of symptoms such as sensory deficits,[10] cognitive difficulties or sleep problems. Parkinson plus diseases are primary parkinsonisms which present additional features.[7] They include multiple system atrophy, progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration and dementia with Lewy bodies.[7][11] In terms of pathophysiology, PD is considered a synucleiopathy due to an abnormal accumulation of alpha-synuclein protein in the brain in the form of Lewy bodies, as opposed to other diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease where the brain accumulates tau protein in the form of neurofibrillary tangles.[12] Nevertheless, there is clinical and pathological overlap between tauopathies and synucleinopathies. The most typical symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, occurs in advanced stages of PD, while it is common to find neurofibrillary tangles in brains affected by PD.[12] Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is another synucleinopathy that has similarities with PD, and especially with the subset of PD cases with dementia. However, the relationship between PD and DLB is complex and still has to be clarified.[13] They may represent parts of a continuum or they may be separate diseases.[13] Parkinson’s disease affects movement, producing motor symptoms.[6] Non-motor symptoms, which include autonomic dysfunction, neuropsychiatric problems (mood, cognition, behavior or thought alterations), and sensory and sleep difficulties, are also common. Some of these non-motor symptoms are often present at the time of diagnosis and can precede motor symptoms.[6] Continue reading



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Parkinson's Disease: Get the Facts on Causes – MedicineNet

Parkinson’s disease facts Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder which leads to progressive deterioration of motor function due to loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. Primary symptoms include tremor, stiffness, slowness, impaired balance, and later on a shuffling gait. Some secondary symptoms include anxiety, depression, and dementia. Most individuals with Parkinson’s disease are diagnosed when they are 60 years old or older, but early-onset Parkinson’s disease also occurs. With proper treatment, most individuals with Parkinson’s disease can lead long, productive lives for many years after diagnosis. What is Parkinson’s disease? Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder and the most common movement disorder. It is characterized by progressive loss of muscle control, which leads to trembling of the limbs and head while at rest, stiffness, slowness, and impaired balance. As symptoms worsen, it may become difficult to walk, talk, and complete simple tasks. The progression of Parkinson’s disease and the degree of impairment vary from individual to individual. Many people with Parkinson’s disease live long productive lives, whereas others become disabled much more quickly. Premature death is usually due to complications such as falling-related injuries or pneumonia. Most individuals who develop Parkinson’s disease are 60 years of age or older. Since overall life expectancy is rising, the number of individuals with Parkinson’s disease will increase in the future. Adult-onset Parkinson’s disease is most common, but early-onset Parkinson’s disease (onset between 21-40 years), and juvenile-onset Parkinson’s disease (onset before age 21) also exist. Descriptions of Parkinson’s disease date back as far as 5000 BC. Around that time, an ancient Indian civilization called the disorder Kampavata and treated it with the seeds of a plant containing therapeutic levels of what is today known as levodopa. Parkinson’s disease was named after the British doctor James Parkinson, who in 1817 first described the disorder in great detail as “shaking palsy.” Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/4/2015 Parkinson’s Disease – Symptoms Question: At what age did Parkinson’s symptoms first appear, and what are they? Parkinson’s Disease – Treatments Question: What do you do to treat and manage your Parkinson’s disease? Parkinson’s Disease – Diagnosis Question: At what stage was your Parkinson’s disease diagnosed? Parkinson’s Disease – Prognosis Question: Parkinson’s is not a fatal disease. What is the prognosis for you, a friend, or relative? Continue reading



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Parkinson's Disease: Get the Facts on Causes - MedicineNet

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