What Is Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinsons disease is a degenerative, progressive disorder that affects nerve cells in deep parts of the brain called the basal ganglia and the substantia nigra. Nerve cells in the substantia nigra produce the neurotransmitter dopamine and are responsible for relaying messages that plan and control body movement. For reasons not yet understood, the dopamine-producing nerve cells of the substantia nigra begin to die off in some individuals. When 80 percent of dopamine is lost, PD symptoms such as tremor, slowness of movement, stiffness, and balance problems occur.
Body movement is controlled by a complex chain of decisions involving inter-connected groups of nerve cells called ganglia. Information comes to a central area of the brain called the striatum, which works with the substantia nigra to send impulses back and forth from the spinal cord to the brain. The basal ganglia and cerebellum are responsible for ensuring that movement is carried out in a smooth, fluid manner .
The action of dopamine is opposed by another neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. In PD the nerve cells that produce dopamine are dying. The PD symptoms of tremor and stiffness occur when the nerve cells fire and there isn’t enough dopamine to transmit messages. High levels of glutamate, another neurotransmitter, also appear in PD as the body tries to compensate for the lack of dopamine.
First Evidence Of Survival Advantage
Flavonoids are plant-derived polyphenolic molecules found in fruits such as berries, apples, and oranges vegetables such as kale and broccoli and beverages, including tea and red wine. They are the dietary components that give many foods their vibrant color.
Certain flavonoids have been shown previously to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
A previous study by Gao and colleagues showed that flavonoids were associated with a lower future risk for developing PD. However, it did not provide evidence these nutrients improved survival rates among PD patients.
The new analysis included participants from the ongoing Nurses’ Health Study of female registered nurses, which began in 1976, and male participants from the ongoing Health Professionals Follow-up Study , which began in 1986.
All participants answered questionnaires at baseline and then biennially to update information on demographics, lifestyle, medical history, and occurrence of chronic disease.
Using validated food-frequency questionnaires completed every 4 years, researchers assessed dietary intakes of total flavonoid, six flavonoid subclasses, and flavonoid-rich foods such as tea, apples, berries, oranges and orange juice, and red wine.
Frequency of consumption of flavonoid-rich foods was categorized into four groups: one or less servings per month , one to three servings per month, one to two servings per week, and three or more servings per week.
What Are The Different Stages Of Parkinsons Disease
Each person with Parkinsons disease experiences symptoms in in their own unique way. Not everyone experiences all symptoms of Parkinsons disease. You may not experience symptoms in the same order as others. Some people may have mild symptoms others may have intense symptoms. How quickly symptoms worsen also varies from individual to individual and is difficult to impossible to predict at the outset.
In general, the disease progresses from early stage to mid-stage to mid-late-stage to advanced stage. This is what typically occurs during each of these stages:
Early symptoms of Parkinsons disease are usually mild and typically occur slowly and do not interfere with daily activities. Sometimes early symptoms are not easy to detect or you may think early symptoms are simply normal signs of aging. You may have fatigue or a general sense of uneasiness. You may feel a slight tremor or have difficulty standing.
Often, a family member or friend notices some of the subtle signs before you do. They may notice things like body stiffness or lack of normal movement slow or small handwriting, lack of expression in your face, or difficulty getting out of a chair.
Standing and walking are becoming more difficult and may require assistance with a walker. You may need full time help to continue to live at home.
Don’t Miss: Pfnca Wellness Programs
Genetic Principles And Exceptions Thereof In Familial Pd
The majority of PD cases are sporadic, i.e., only about 10% of patients report a positive family history . Out of the six genes unequivocally linked to heritable, monogenic PD, mutations in SNCA , and LRRK2 are responsible for autosomal-dominant PD forms, and mutations in Parkin , PINK1 , DJ-1 , and ATP13A2 are accountable for PD that displays an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance.
In general, the inheritance patterns of human disorders are identified by examining the way the disorders are transmitted in the family of the index patient. Such a pedigree analysis requires a careful assembly of the disease records of the family members over several generations, and if possible, examination and sample collection from affected and unaffected individuals from the pedigree. All of the currently known monogenic PD forms are autosomal , which means that they are linked with regions on autosomes .
Pedigree of a PD family that comprises affected members with and without the LRRK2 p.G2019S mutation. Five mutation carriers are unaffected, showing reduced penetrance, two mutation carriers are affected with dystonia, showing variable expressivity, and one affected family member does not have the p.G2019S mutation in LRRK2. Black symbols – affected individuals white symbols – unaffected individuals half-filled symbols – individuals with dystonia + – mutation carriers.
What Research Is Being Done
Current research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke are using animal models to study how the disease progresses and to develop new drug therapies. Scientists looking for the cause of PD continue to search for possible environmental factors, such as toxins, that may trigger the disorder, and study genetic factors to determine how defective genes play a role. Researchers are investigating how cellular processes controlled by genes contribute to neurodegeneration , including the toxic accumulation of the protein alpha-synuclein in nerve cells and how the loss of dopamine impairs communication between nerve cells. Other scientists are working to develop new protective drugs that can delay, prevent, or reverse the disease. Key NINDS programs include the Parkinson’s Disease Biomarkers Program, which is aimed at discovering biomarkers–new ways to identify people at risk for developing PD and to track the progression of the disease and the Accelerating Medicines Partnership for Parkinson’s Disease , in which the National Institutes of Health, multiple biopharmaceutical and life science communities, and nonprofit advocacy organizations work to identify and validate biomarkers for PD. More information about Parkinson’s Disease research is available at:
The four primary symptoms of PD are:
The four primary symptoms of PD are:
The four primary symptoms of PD are:
Recommended Reading: Parkinson’s Bike Therapy
Locating The Basal Ganglia
The basal ganglia are collections of nerve cells located deep within the brain. They include the following:
The basal ganglia help initiate and smooth out muscle movements, suppress involuntary movements, and coordinate changes in posture.
What Lifestyle Changes Can I Make To Ease Parkinsons Symptoms
Exercise: Exercise helps improve muscle strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, and tremor. It is also strongly believed to improve memory, thinking and reduce the risk of falls and decrease anxiety and depression. One study in persons with Parkinsons disease showed that 2.5 hours of exercise per week resulted in improved ability to move and a slower decline in quality of life compared to those who didnt exercise or didnt start until later in the course of their disease. Some exercises to consider include strengthening or resistance training, stretching exercises or aerobics . All types of exercise are helpful.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet: This is not only good for your general health but can ease some of the non-movement related symptoms of Parkinsons, such as constipation. Eating foods high in fiber in particular can relieve constipation. The Mediterranean diet is one example of a healthy diet.
Preventing falls and maintaining balance: Falls are a frequent complication of Parkinson’s. While you can do many things to reduce your risk of falling, the two most important are: 1) to work with your doctor to ensure that your treatments whether medicines or deep brain stimulation are optimal and 2) to consult with a physical therapist who can assess your walking and balance. The physical therapist is the expert when it comes to recommending assistive devices or exercise to improve safety and preventing falls.
Recommended Reading: Voice Amplifiers For Parkinson’s
Changes Inside The Brain
In Parkinson disease, nerve cells in part of the basal ganglia degenerate.
The basal ganglia are collections of nerve cells located deep within the brain. They help do the following:
Initiate and smooth out intended muscle movements
Suppress involuntary movements
Coordinate changes in posture
When the brain initiates an impulse to move a muscle , the impulse passes through the basal ganglia. Like all nerve cells, those in the basal ganglia release chemical messengers that trigger the next nerve cell in the pathway to send an impulse. A key neurotransmitter in the basal ganglia is dopamine. Its overall effect is to increase nerve impulses to muscles.
When nerve cells in the basal ganglia degenerate, they produce less dopamine, and the number of connections between nerve cells in the basal ganglia decreases. As a result, the basal ganglia cannot control muscle movement as they normally do, leading to tremor, slow movement , a tendency to move less , problems with posture and walking, and some loss of coordination.
What Role Do Genes Play
Your genes are like your body’s instruction book. So if you get a change in one of them, it can make your body work in a slightly different way. Sometimes, that means you’re more likely to get a certain disease.
There are several genetic mutations that can raise your risk for Parkinson’s, each by a little bit. They have a part in about 1 in 10 cases.
If you have one or more of these changes, it doesn’t mean you’ll get Parkinson’s. Some people will, but many won’t, and doctors don’t know why. It may have to do with other genes or something in your environment.
You May Like: Medicinal Plants For Parkinson’s Disease
Other Causes Of Parkinsonism
“Parkinsonism” is the umbrella term used to describe the symptoms of tremors, muscle rigidity and slowness of movement.
Parkinson’s disease is the most common type of parkinsonism, but there are also some rarer types where a specific cause can be identified.
These include parkinsonism caused by:
- medication where symptoms develop after taking certain medications, such as some types of antipsychotic medication, and usually improve once the medication is stopped
- other progressive brain conditions such as progressive supranuclear palsy, multiple systems atrophy and corticobasal degeneration
- cerebrovascular disease where a series of small strokes cause several parts of the brain to die
You can read more about parkinsonism on the Parkinson’s UK website.
Page last reviewed: 30 April 2019 Next review due: 30 April 2022
Is Parkinsons Disease Inherited
Scientists have discovered gene mutations that are associated with Parkinsons disease.
There is some belief that some cases of early-onset Parkinsons disease disease starting before age 50 may be inherited. Scientists identified a gene mutation in people with Parkinsons disease whose brains contain Lewy bodies, which are clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein. Scientists are trying to understand the function of this protein and its relationship to genetic mutations that are sometimes seen in Parkinsons disease and in people with a type of dementia called Lewy body dementia.
Several other gene mutations have been found to play a role in Parkinsons disease. Mutations in these genes cause abnormal cell functioning, which affects the nerve cells ability to release dopamine and causes nerve cell death. Researchers are still trying to discover what causes these genes to mutate in order to understand how gene mutations influence the development of Parkinsons disease.
Scientists think that about 10% to 15% of persons with Parkinsons disease may have a genetic mutation that predisposes them to development of the disease. There are also environmental factors involved that are not fully understood.
Recommended Reading: Parkinson’s Hallucinations Commercial
How Do I Prevent Falls From Common Hazards
- Floors: Remove all loose wires, cords, and throw rugs. Minimize clutter. Make sure rugs are anchored and smooth. Keep furniture in its usual place.
- Bathroom: Install grab bars and non-skid tape in the tub or shower. Use non-skid bath mats on the floor or install wall-to-wall carpeting.
- Lighting: Make sure halls, stairways, and entrances are well-lit. Install a night light in your bathroom or hallway and staircase. Turn lights on if you get up in the middle of the night. Make sure lamps or light switches are within reach of the bed if you have to get up during the night.
- Kitchen: Install non-skid rubber mats near the sink and stove. Clean spills immediately.
- Stairs: Make sure treads, rails, and rugs are secure. Install a rail on both sides of the stairs. If stairs are a threat, it might be helpful to arrange most of your activities on the lower level to reduce the number of times you must climb the stairs.
- Entrances and doorways: Install metal handles on the walls adjacent to the doorknobs of all doors to make it more secure as you travel through the doorway.
Living Well With Parkinson’s
While medication and DBS surgery are the most effective treatments for PD, individuals often choose to delay these treatments because of their adverse side effects. Until a therapy is developed that can halt the progression of PD, there is a significant need for strategies that provide symptom relief without causing negative side effects.
Diet, Exercise, and Stress Reduction
Findings from several studies suggest that exercise has the potential to provide relief from certain PD symptoms. Anecdotally, people with Parkinsons disease who exercise typically do better. However, many questions remain. Among them is whether exercise provides a conditioning effect by strengthening muscles and improving flexibility or whether it has a direct effect on the brain.
In an NINDS-funded trial comparing the benefits of tai chi, resistance training, and stretching, tai chi was found to reduce balance impairments in people with mild-to-moderate PD. People in the tai chi group also experienced significantly fewer falls and greater improvements in their functional capacity.
Technologies that Improve Quality of Life
Also Check: Weighted Silverware
What Are The Symptoms
Symptoms of PD vary from person to person, as does the rate of progression. A person who has Parkinson’s may experience some of these more common “hallmark” symptoms:
- Bradykinesia – slowness of movement, impaired dexterity, decreased blinking, drooling, expressionless face.
- Tremor at rest – involuntary shaking that decreases with purposeful movement. Typically starts on one side of the body, usually the hand.
- Rigidity – stiffness caused by involuntary increase in muscle tone.
- Postural instability – sense of imbalance. Patients often compensate by lowering their center of gravity, which results in a stooped posture.
Other symptoms that may or may not occur:
Freezing or being stuck in place Shuffling gait or dragging of one foot Stooped posture Cognitive impairment
Genes Linked To Parkinsons Disease
Theres a long list of genes known to contribute to Parkinsons, and there may be many more yet to be discovered. Here are some of the main players:
SNCA: SNCA makes the protein alpha-synuclein. In brain cells of individuals with Parkinsons disease, this protein gathers in clumps called Lewy bodies. Mutations in the SNCA gene occur in early-onset Parkinsons disease.
PARK2: The PARK2 gene makes the protein parkin, which normally helps cells break down and recycle proteins.
PARK7: Mutations in this gene cause a rare form of early-onset Parkinsons disease. The PARK7 gene makes the protein DJ-1, which protects against mitochondrial stress.
PINK1: The protein made by PINK1 is a protein kinase that protects mitochondria from stress. PINK1 mutations occur in early-onset Parkinsons disease.
LRRK2: The protein made by LRRK2 is also a protein kinase. Mutations in the LRRK2 gene have been linked to late-onset Parkinsons disease.
Among inherited cases of Parkinsons, the inheritance patterns differ depending on the genes involved. If the LRRK2 or SNCA genes are involved, Parkinsons is likely inherited from just one parent. Thats called an autosomal dominant pattern, which is when you only need one copy of a gene to be altered for the disorder to happen.
Read Also: Parkinson’s Double Vision
Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease
Parkinson’s disease has four main symptoms:
- Tremor in hands, arms, legs, jaw, or head
- Stiffness of the limbs and trunk
- Slowness of movement
- Impaired balance and coordination, sometimes leading to falls
Symptoms of Parkinsons and the rate of progression differ among individuals. Sometimes people dismiss early symptoms of Parkinson’s as the effects of normal aging. In most cases, there are no medical tests to definitively detect the disease, so it can be difficult to diagnose accurately.
Early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are subtle and occur gradually. For example, affected people may feel mild tremors or have difficulty getting out of a chair. They may notice that they speak too softly, or that their handwriting is slow and looks cramped or small. Friends or family members may be the first to notice changes in someone with early Parkinson’s. They may see that the person’s face lacks expression and animation, or that the person does not move an arm or leg normally.
People with Parkinson’s often develop a parkinsonian gait that includes a tendency to lean forward, small quick steps as if hurrying forward, and reduced swinging of the arms. They also may have trouble initiating or continuing movement.