Risk Factors And Causes
There isnt one single cause of Parkinsons that has been proven at this time. Researchers believe a loss of the neurotransmitter dopamine, neurological damage, inflammation and brain cell deterioration are among the primary factors that trigger Parkinsons development. But why exactly patients develop these problems is a complex issue that remains up for debate.
What is known is that certain risk factors can make someone more susceptible to developing Parkinsons disease, which can include:
- Being a man, especially during older age. Research suggests that men in their 50s and 60s are most likely to develop Parkinsons.
- Genetic susceptibility: Studies have now identified several gene mutations that can put someone at a greater risk. Parkinsons has also been found to run in families, and having a sibling or parent increases someones risk.
- Damage to the area of the brain called the substantia nigra, which produces brain cells that are responsible for making dopamine.
- Toxicity and exposure to chemicals, including pesticides present on produce from non-organic farming. Living in a rural area and drinking well-water that might contain chemicals is another environmental risk factor.
- Poor diet, nutrient deficiencies, food allergies and an unhealthy lifestyle.
- Hormonal imbalances and other medical conditions that affect cognitive health and increase inflammation.
Foods High In Saturated Fat
The role that foods high in saturated fats play in Parkinsons progression is still under investigation and is often conflicting. We might eventually discover that there are certain types of saturated fats that actually help people with Parkinsons.
But in general, foods that have been fried or heavily processed alter your metabolism, increase blood pressure, and impact your cholesterol. None of those things are good for your body, especially if youre trying to treat Parkinsons.
Slowing Down The Progression Of Parkinsons Disease
We have all heard that keeping active is good for you and has immediate benefits for your health both short-term and long-term. Regular activity reduces the risk of developing some cancers, cardiovascular disease, as well as obesity and the health issues associated with this. What you may not have heard is regular exercise has also shown to slow the progression of Parkinsons disease.
Parkinsons disease is a neurodegenerative disease which targets and progressively damages nerve cells in a particular area of the brain over a long period of time. These nerve cells are very important for their role in producing a chemical called Dopamine. Without this chemical, the brain is not able to control normal bodily movement and the typical presentation of Parkinsons beings to show in the individual. This can range from balance issues, difficulty with memory and smell, as well as the well-known involuntary shaking. The cause of Parkinsons is still unclear, however, there is thought to be a combination of both genetic and environmental factors.
The link between exercise and reducing Parkinsons progression is believed to be focused on a particular protein known as the DJ-1 gene. As we all become more and more sedentary in our day-to-day lives, scientists have noticed an increase of a normal neural protein alpha-synuclein, which is important for relaying messages and normal brain function. However, in excessive clumps this could potentially be an issue.
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Foods Containing Saturated Fat And Cholesterol
Some studies suggest that dietary fat intake may increase the risk of Parkinsons.
Although having a higher intake of cholesterol can elevate a persons Parkinsons risk, having a higher intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids may reduce the risk.
Therefore, a person with Parkinsons may wish to reduce their intake of cholesterol to help control the symptoms of the condition. They may also wish to reduce the amount of saturated fat in their diet.
However, further studies are required to explore the link between dietary fat and Parkinsons.
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Slowing The Spread Of Alpha Synuclein Pathology
There is a mantra that disease modifying treatments must be initiated early if they are to be of any use in preventing disease progression. This is because post mortem specimens suggest that> 50% of SNc dopaminergic neurons are already lost by the time that patients present with the classical motor features of the disease . Given that there are many effective symptomatic treatments to help the motor, dopaminergic deficits in PD, it can be argued that the important unmet needs in PD relate to cognitive, speech, gait and balance difficulties and autonomic failure. In this case any treatment that prevented onset/worsening of these symptoms, would be highly relevant even in patients with established motor PD, and would be addressing the major challenges that patients face in its long-term management. From another perspective, since many of these non-motor features of PD may precede the onset of motor symptoms, we may have an even earlier window to start therapy, and have an opportunity to slow or stop the development of even the first motor symptoms of PD.
Beyond this, the companies will have to look carefully at the emerging data to decide whether a strategy of enrichment might be advantageous, and/or whether to risk extending trial eligibility to patients with more established disease than those currently being recruited.
How Much Should I Exercise For Pd
At the recent World Parkinson Congress 2016, the main theme that I noticed is that exercise is the best medicine for PD. It may not be as effective at treating PD symptoms as l-dopa, but all the research and anecdotal evidence clearly shows that collectively, those who exercise regularly enjoy a far better quality of life with PD, for a longer period of time, as compared to those who do not. While medical research continues to be important, the best thing that can be done for the growing number of People with Parkinsons today is to encourage exercise.
There is a growing consensus that more exercise is better, and there is concern that many PwP are being given outdated or incomplete exercise recommendations.
Results from the Bastyr University Patient-Reported Outcomes in PD survey were shared at WPC 2016. The survey asks PwP about their diet, exercise and supplement regimens, and correlates this information with a self-assessment of PD progression.
The survey results indicate that the more days per week that a person exercises , for at least 30 minutes, the slower the PD progression.
Before you start a 6 or 7 day per week program, please dont do the same exercise routine every day. Focus on different muscle groups so that you are not overworking particular muscles, and not neglecting any muscle groups.
It is very important to stress that the CDC and other organizations consider these to be minimum recommendations to receive health benefits from exercise.
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Lets Talk Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons is a slowly progressive disorder that affects movement, muscle control, and balance.
Our understanding of PD pathophysiology has vastly improved compared to what we knew 20 years ago, explained the study authors.
We believe we can be optimistic that the next 20 years will see major breakthroughs towards the discovery of therapies that may slow, stop, or reverse PD.
The authors summarise recent advances, including identification of the major genetic risks for Parkinsons disease, development of more representative animal models of the disease, early successes using Antisense Oligonucleotide and vaccination approaches in other neurodegenerative diseases, along with a translational pipeline of a broad range of repurposed drugs showing the first signals of potential efficacy, which are being driven forward through the various clinical trial stages.
Vigorous Exercise And Parkinsons Disease
Moderate intensity exercise clearly helps with symptom management of Parkinsons Disease, fighting rigidity and maintaining muscle to counteract the weakening effects of PD. Numerous studies provide clear evidence that even moderate intensity exercise can improve gait, balance, tremor, flexibility, grip strength and motor coordination.
Additional studies have shown that vigorous exercise can affect not only the symptoms, but can slow down the progression of Parkinsons Disease.
Vigorous exercise induces and increases the beneficial neurotrophic factors. Studies show an increase in GDNF , which reduces the vulnerability of remaining dopamine neurons to damage.
Similarly, exercise increases BDNF , which may promote neuroplasticity. Historically, the medical field held the belief that the brain did not make major changes after a certain point in time. However, it is now known that the brain is actually capable of changing and developing throughout a lifetime. The term neuroplasticity is used to describe this tendency for the brain to keep developing, changing, and potentially healing itself. Vigorous exercise is currently considered as the best approach to encourage neuroplasticity.
For people with Parkinsons, the most common vigorous exercise regimens are:
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Scientifically Backed Ways To Prevent Parkinsons Disease
Dopamine plays a major role in a variety of mental and physical functions, including:
- Voluntary movement
- General behavior
Parkinsons now afflicts roughly 1.5 million people in the United States alone, with primary symptoms being body tremors, slow movement, rigid limbs, reduced memory, a shuffling gait and speech impairment. So we have to ask:
1.) What causes it?
2.) How do we prevent it?
Currently there isnt a known cure, and its not fully understood what causes the dip in dopamine however, we know that aging is the single most important risk factor for PD, with inflammation and stress contributing to cell damage. And we now know enough about the disease to understand the preventative measures that counter the aging and death of the neurons under attack.
Because there is no known cure, its critical that we prevent the disease before symptoms arise. Granted, thanks to recent advancements in modern surgical procedures, there are some safe surgeries that can mitigate some of the more severe symptoms associated with PD. The most common one now is deep brain stimulation, in which they implant an electrode into the brain that can stop some of the more severe symptoms of Parkinsons.
But this article will try to keep it from getting to that point. The less drugs and surgery we can have in our lives, the better.
Surgical Treatment For Parkinsons
This is advised when the disease progresses and the medications are no longer controlling the symptoms of PD adequately.
- As the disease progresses, Levodopa still works, but the brains response to the medication becomes less predictable. Levodopa may take longer to kick in and may wear off earlier, requiring patients to take medication more frequently during the day. Higher doses of levodopa are associated with abnormal involuntary movements, known as dyskinesias . Unpredictable medication effect results in OFF time when patients feel stiff, rigid, stuck, frozen, slow, or fatigued, compared to ON time when movements are smooth and closer to normal.
- Treatment options as the disease progresses include taking levodopa more frequently making the medication last longer by adding medications to reduce the metabolism of levodopa, or dopamine adding or changing to long-acting forms of levodopa , or adding or changing to long-acting forms of dopamine agonist . Amantadine can be added to reduce dyskinesia. As these options are being considered and implemented, its time to consider deep brain stimulation surgery .
- Deep brain stimulation surgery is FDA-approved for the treatment of motor complications in Parkinsons disease and is not experimental. DBS is not a last-resort treatment. It has been shown that DBS is more beneficial when performed earlier in the course of the disease compared to waiting for disability.
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What Causes Parkinsons Disease
There is as yet no treatment to prevent or halt the gradual dying off of the brain cells that produce dopamine. The main reason is that, despite decades of research, it is still unclear exactly why and how this happens.
Abnormal Biochemical Process
It now appears probable the damage to brain cells is the result of faulty biochemical processes. For example, many studies are now focus on alpha-synuclein, a protein involved in regulating the flow of dopamine. In people with Parkinsons there is an overproduction of this protein, some of it in a mutated form, and scientists believe that this might be toxic to brain cells.
Genetic and Environmental Factors
In the meantime, experts do know that a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors contribute to the risk of developing Parkinsons disease.
About 10% to 15% of cases can be linked directly to hereditary factors. Furthermore, research has shown that small variations in one or more of about 20 genes might increase the risk of Parkinsons. But not all people who have these gene variations develop the disease and that is where environmental and lifestyle factors come in.
Exposure to certain pesticides and herbicides is one such risk factor. These chemicals have been found in the brains some Parkinsons sufferers and the incidence of the condition is higher in agricultural workers than among the general population. Previous brain trauma is another risk factor.
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How To Prevent Parkinson’s Disease
Aging is the biggest risk factor for Parkinsons disease. This disease is the second most common disorder as a result of degeneration of brain cells. The condition affects around 1 million Americans and worldwide about 1 in 600 people over the age of 65 suffer from Parkinsons. In this article we look at how to prevent Parkinsons disease. We also look at the disease progression and its risk factors.
The condition was initially described around two centuries ago, but researchers are still trying to unravel exactly what causes the changes in the brain. There is still no treatment to cure or stop the progression of the disease. However, as for other chronic conditions associated with aging, it is becoming clear that healthy habits slow down the aging process and prevent or delay the onset of Parkinsons disease.
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What Is Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinsons disease occurs when brain cells that make dopamine, a chemical that coordinates movement, stop working or die. Because PD can cause tremor, slowness, stiffness, and walking and balance problems, it is called a movement disorder. But constipation, depression, memory problems and other non-movement symptoms also can be part of Parkinsons. PD is a lifelong and progressive disease, which means that symptoms slowly worsen over time.
The experience of living with Parkinson’s over the course of a lifetime is unique to each person. As symptoms and progression vary from person to person, neither you nor your doctor can predict which symptoms you will get, when you will get them or how severe they will be. Even though broad paths of similarity are observed among individuals with PD as the disease progresses, there is no guarantee you will experience what you see in others.
Estimates suggest that Parkinsons affects nearly 1 million people in the United States and more than 6 million people worldwide.
For an in-depth guide to navigating Parkinsons disease and living well as the disease progresses, check out our Parkinsons 360 toolkit.
What Is Parkinson’s Disease?
Dr. Rachel Dolhun, a movement disorder specialist and vice president of medical communications at The Michael J. Fox Foundation, breaks down the basics of Parkinson’s.
Rutgers Collaborates With Scripps Research Hoping To Develop New Drug Treatment
A collaboration between scientists at Rutgers University and Scripps Research led to the discovery of a small molecule that may slow down or stop the progression of Parkinsons disease.
Parkinsons, which affects 1 million people in the United States and over 10 million worldwide according to the Parkinsons Foundation, is a neurodegenerative disorder with no cure. Symptoms develop slowly over time and can be debilitating to patients, who most recognizably develop tremor, slow movements and a shuffling gait.
A key feature of Parkinsons disease is a protein named -synuclein, which accumulates in an abnormal form in brain cells causing them to degenerate and die. However, it has been difficult to target -synuclein because it does not have a fixed structure and keeps changing its shape, making it very difficult for drugs to target. Because higher levels of the protein in the brain speed the degeneration of brain cells, scientists have been looking for ways to decrease the protein production as a form of treatment.
In 2014, Parkinsons disease expert and scientist M. Maral Mouradian, William Dow Lovett Professor of Neurology and director of the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Institute for Neurological Therapeutics, contacted Matthew D. Disney, chemistry professor at Scripps Research in Florida, to explore a novel idea for treating Parkinsons disease using a new technology developed by Disney.
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Parkinson’s Disease Progression Can Be Slowed With Vigorous Exercise Study Shows
His friends noticed the tremor before he did. It started in his left hand, Geoffrey Rogers said, but before long the trembling affected his right too.
The cause, doctors found, was Parkinsons disease.
At Rush University Medical Center, where Rogers, then 64, received a second opinion, the father of three learned he could join a new clinical trial for those with the neurodegenerative condition.
A team of researchers at Northwestern Medicine and the University of Colorado School of Medicine wanted to find out whether high- or moderate-intensity exercise was safe for patients with Parkinsons disease. Would it help with the diseases symptoms, the progressive loss of muscle control, tremors, stiffness?
Five years later, those scientists have an answer: Yes. Increasing disease severity in early-stage Parkinsons disease patients can be slowed with a few days of exercise weekly. The results of their trial, published Monday in JAMA Neurology, found vigorous exercise is a safe way to potentially delay the progression of Parkinsons disease.
The real question is: Is there any disease or any disorder for which exercise is not good? said Daniel Corcos, one of the lead authors of the study and a professor of physical therapy and human movement sciences at Northwesterns Feinberg School of Medicine. I havent found any.
The onset of symptoms can be distressing for families, especially because the causes of Parkinsons disease are not fully understood.