What is Parkinson's disease?
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that progresses slowly in most people. There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s; however, your doctors will be focused and dedicated to finding treatments that help control the symptoms of PD and have a good quality of life.
Parkinson's disease (PD or, simply, Parkinson's) is the most common form of parkinsonism, a group of motor system disorders. It is a slowly progressing, degenerative disease that is usually associated with the following symptoms:
- Tremor or trembling of the arms, jaw, legs, and face
- Stiffness or rigidity of the limbs and trunk
- Bradykinesia (slowness of movement)
- Postural instability, or impaired balance and coordination
Dopamine is a substance produced in the body which has many effects, including smooth and coordinated muscle movement.
What causes Parkinson's disease (PD)?
The specific cause of PD is unknown; however, medical experts believe the symptoms are related to a chemical imbalance in the brain caused by the loss of brain cells. Parkinson's disease is chronic (persists over a long period of time) and progressive (symptoms grow worse over time).
Although the disease may appear in younger patients (even teenagers), it usually affects people in late middle age. It is not contagious, nor is it likely passed on from generation to generation.
The biggest risk factor for developing PD is advancing age. The average age for the onset of PD is 60 years. In addition, 50 percent more men are affected than women, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. However, the reason for this is unclear.
Family history is another important risk factor. Individuals with a parent or sibling who are affected have approximately two times the chance of developing PD. This increased risk is most likely because of a combination of environmental and genetic factors.
Currently researchers believe that in most individuals the cause of PD is a combination of genetics and environmental exposure.