What is Parkinson’s Disease? How it Happens?

Parkinson's Disease

 

hi  today I’d like to discuss a question that is essential to our Foundation’s work what is Parkinson’s let’s start with some basic in the United States it is estimated that anywhere from 600,000 to 1 million people or more are living with Parkinson’s and at least 60,000 are diagnosed each year this makes P V one of the most common brain diseases second only to Alzheimer’s age increases the risk of Parkinson’s and the average age at diagnosis is 60 so as our population continues to grow older
more people are likely to experience PD in fact people tend to think of Parkinson’s as an older person’s disease but some get PD at 40 or even younger some diseases can be diagnosed with a lab test cholesterol levels and blood pressure are measured to evaluate for heart disease for example we need tests like that in Parkinson’s but they don’t exist yet doctors diagnose Parkinson’s by completing a medical history and physical examination they look for two of the three classic motor symptoms which are resting tremor stiffness and slowness of movement
when people hear about Parkinson’s they mostly think of these motor symptoms especially tremor but some people also experience walking and balance problems and PD affects other body systems constipation sleep problems cognitive changes and depression can occur sometimes even before a Parkinson’s diagnosis and some people report that they lose their sense of smell one of the hardest things about Parkinson’s is that everyone with the disease embarks on a unique journey in fact movement disorder specialists say if you’ve met one person with Parkinson’s you’ve met one person with Parkinson’s each person has their own mix of symptoms and there is no standard trajectory or path so if everyone gets their own version of Parkinson’s

 

Parkinson's Disease

 

and what does everyone with PD have in common to answer that let’s take a look inside the brain in Parkinson’s the brain cells that make dopamine stop working or die dopamine is a signaling chemicals or a neurotransmitter that coordinates movement as well as feelings of motivation and reward when dopamine cells die Parkinson’s symptoms emerge exactly why these cells die is not well understood researchers believe that in most people Parkinson’s is likely caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors but although certain environmental factors such as pesticides and head injury are associated with an increased risk of PD in most people there is no clear exposure we can point to as a straightforward cause of their Parkinson’s similarly while genetic mutations are linked to an increased risk of Parkinson’s based on

what we know today the vast majority of cases are not directly related to genetics however the field of genetics is moving fast in Parkinson’s as in many other diseases tremendous research is focused on genetics because this is our best opportunity to uncover paths to treatment breakthroughs but how do we treat Parkinson’s today here’s what I told my own patients when I was a doctor in clinical practice the currently available PD medications can’t slow or stop the progression of the disease but they can ease symptoms and help you continue doing much of what you have always done the same goes for certain surgical procedures which are a good option for people the most important point is that treatment regimens need to be individualized

so you should work closely with your doctor to determine what medication or combination of therapies work best for you and your symptoms speaking of doctors our foundation urges people with PD to see a movement disorder specialist if possible many people don’t get to these experts and we’d like to change that because the right doctor can help optimize your Parkinson’s care update you on research and drug development and direct you to clinical trials which are vital opportunities for you to advance scientific progress specialists can help you build the right care team and treatment regimen but there’s much more you can do to feel your back like making sure to eat well exercise and stay connected to others check out our full Parkinson’s 360 toolkit for advice

on living in the here and now with Parkinson’s as well as information on what to expect as Parkinson’s unfolds over time so what is Parkinson disease today it’s different things to different people but by working together urgently and with purpose we hope to make it a thing of the past for everybody at the Michael J Fox foundation our mission is nothing short of eradicating Parkinson’s altogether much work remains to be done but we’ve got many reasons to be optimistic as Michael J Fox says the latest research is the latest hope we’re closer than ever to new and better therapies even one second slow or stop the progression of the disease and until the day we find the cure and close our doors we promise we won’t stop