Parkinson’s disease is a neurologic disorder of old age, usually affecting more than 60 years of age. It is characterized by slowly developing disabilities due to the loss of dopamine in the brain cells. Parkinson’s disease is incurable, and currently, there is no treatment available that can cure the condition; only the disease progression can be slowed down.
According to an estimate, more than 10 million people live with Parkinson’s disease in the world each year. About 1 million of these live in the United States. Almost 60 thousand people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year in the United States alone.
Parkinson’s disease is caused by the loss of dopaminergic neurons in a particular brain area called substantia nigra. The exact mechanism by which destruction occurs is unknown, but various genetic and environmental factors are believed to be responsible for it.
Parkinson’s disease occurs worldwide, but the prevalence varies. It is predominantly a disease of old age, and symptoms appear at around 60 years of age. In very rare cases, signs and symptoms might appear as early as 40 years of age. It is more common in men than in women.
According to various studies, the environmental risk factors for Parkinson’s disease include:
Genetic factors are responsible for about 10% of all disease cases. In cases involving genetics, the disease onset is seen in the early years, around 50 years of age. People with type 2 diabetes are at a 30% increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Following are the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease:
Diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is based upon clinical signs solely. The presence of characteristic motor signs is sufficient for the diagnosis. If two of the three characteristic motor symptoms are present in any patient, the diagnosis can be confirmed. These include:
Although lab tests and radiological tests are of no significant importance, brain scans using MRI or CT can be done to rule out other neurological causes such as space-occupying lesions, hydrocephalus, and other disorders.
Differential diagnoses of Parkinson’s disease include:
There is no specific cure for the disease, yet the treatment aims to slow down the progression. Following treatment regimen are usually prescribed:
Before discovering levodopa, Parkinson’s disease was associated with considerable disability and death rate. After its introduction, the death rate decreased to half, and longevity was increased to many years. The factors that predict the prognosis of Parkinson’s include:
Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr.Saad Zia on May 08, 2023.