What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative disease that relates to the loss of nerve cells that make Dopamine in the brain.

Q.What causes it?

A. The causes of Parkinson's remain unknown. Many experts think the disease is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, which may vary from person to person.

Q. What are the symptoms?

A. Tremor that usually occurs while people are sitting quiet. They are present in about 70 percent of people with Parkinson’s. Muscle stiffness, slowness of movement, shuffling gait and difficulty balancing are also common symptoms. In addition, patients might experience non-motor features such as depression, low blood pressure and constipation.

Q. How is it diagnosed?

A. Usually diagnosed based on patient's medical history and a physical.

Q. Who getsParkinson's?

A. Men are one and a half times more likely to have Parkinson's than women. The disease affects people of all ethnicities and is present all over the world. And while the risk of developing the disease increases with age, it shouldn't be thought of as an old age disease because young people get it too. The best example of this is Michael J. Fox.

Q. What's the normal progression?

A. Progression is very individual but is generally slow.

Q. How is it treated?

A. Right now the best medical treatments are medications that replace Dopamine. There are other medications but the main drug is Levodopa. Physical therapy and exercise are also key. In more advanced cases, some patients have deep brain stimulation surgery, which treats the tremors and complications of therapy and improves most of the symptoms.

Source: Dr. Stewart Factor, director of Emory University School of Medicine’s Comprehensive Parkinson’s Disease Center