Here are the top interesting facts about Parkinson’s disease:
#1 It is the 2nd most common neurodegenerative disorder which happens when there is a problem with specific nerve cells in the brain. The average life expectancy after diagnosis is between 7 and 14 years.
#2 This condition is named after James Parkinson, a British surgeon who wrote An Essay on the Shaking Palsy in 1817.
#3 While PD is usually diagnosed at around age 60 (affects 1 person in 20 over the age of 80), younger people can also be affected. It is estimated that about 5 to 10 percent of individuals who have PD experience some symptoms before the age of 40.
#4 Regardless of age at onset of PD, dementia symptoms tend to appear later (after approximately 15 years) in the course of the disease.
#5 Men are 1 1/2 times more likely to have PD than women. Also, it is more common in Caucasians than in Asians or African Americans.
#6 About 1 million people have PD in the United States, and there are more than 60,000 new cases diagnosed per year. Approximately 120,000 sufferers in the United Kingdom have this condition. Also, about 10 million people worldwide have PD.
#7 The combined indirect and direct cost of PD, including social security payments, treatment, and lost income, is estimated to be close to $25 billion a year in the US.
#8 Moreover, an aging population will lead to more patients with this neurodegenerative disease, hence, the high financial burden this condition places on society will increase notably.
#9 A part of the patients, particularly those who develop PD in their younger years, may have more rapid symptom development, however, symptoms of PD usually progress over a period longer than two decades.
#10 At first, it affects one side of the body, and later, it affects both sides.
#11 Symptoms usually include:
- tremor, which generally starts in the arm or hand and is more likely to occur when the limb is relaxed.
- impaired posture – the posture may become stooped, or the patient may have balance problems as a result of PD.
- rigidity – it is characterized by an increased muscle tone that produces stiffness and resistance to movement in joints and leads to joint pain, with such pain being a common initial manifestation of PD.
- paresthesia – it is the medical term for the sensation of pricking, tingling, or numbness of a person’s skin.
- loss of facial expression – some people may stare fixedly with unblinking eyes, while others appear uninterested when speaking.
- slowness of movement – the sufferer usually takes longer to carry out normal tasks.
- sleep problems, including rapid eye movement sleep disorder and excessive daytime drowsiness.
- small handwriting – a patient with this neurodegenerative disorder may start writing a letter in their regular handwriting but gradually start writing in a smaller font, plus, the words are spaced closely.
#12 Individuals with PD do not have sufficient dopamine, a chemical that functions as a neurotransmitter. A neurotransmitter is considered a chemical that is released by neurons to send signals to other nerve cells.
It can act either as an excitatory mechanism or an inhibitory mechanism in the nervous system. When dopamine levels get too low, the patient can’t control his movements, therefore, he starts to experience PD symptoms.
#13 An estimated 20% of people with PD have a relative with this condition. Exposure to environmental factors or certain toxins may also increase the risk of later PD, however, the risk is relatively small.
Also, according to the data, genetic factors are dominant only in cases that happen before age 50.
#14 It is considered that oxidative stress can cause PD. Oxidation is a process in which free radicals react with other molecules. Free radicals are actually the natural byproducts of chemical processes, like – metabolism (the process by which the human body converts foods and drinks into energy) as well as from physical exercise.
Moreover, substances that generate free radicals can be found in the medicines you take, the food you eat, the water you drink, and the air you breathe.
#15 At the present time, PD is a neurodegenerative disorder with no known cure. The goal of treatment is to provide control of symptoms and signs for as long as possible as well as minimizing adverse effects.
#16 The most powerful medicine for the treatment of the symptoms of this condition is called levodopa, which is a chemical found naturally in animals and plants.
#17 A few medications are now available that complement therapy with levodopa, however, none considerably slows the underlying neurodegeneration.
#18 According to a study issued in the journal Neurology, individuals who regularly eat foods rich in flavonoids appear to have a notably reduced risk of developing PD, compared to people who do not.
#19 Individuals who engage in moderate physical activities (like – running, cycling, or swimming) have a considerably lower prevalence of this neurodegenerative disorder.
#20 It is recommended to reduce your stress levels (with sufficient sleep, exercise, mindfulness meditation) since long-term stress is toxic to the brain.
Images source – Shutterstock
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