Race against Parkinson's disease: freeze, fall, or keep walking


Published in: Today Digital
Author: Dra. Awilda E. Candelario, Internist neurologist. Department of Neurology of the General Hospital of the Plaza de la Salud.

Parkinson's disease is a movement disorder, degenerative and progressive central nervous system, resulting from the loss of neurons in the substantia nigra, producing reduced levels of dopamine, chemical messenger, involved in the control of movement.

For this reason, Parkinson's disease affects movement and there are tremors, rigidity in the extremities, balance problems or speech difficulties.

As these symptoms become more pronounced, they have difficulty walking, frequent falls and freezing, limiting daily life.

The exact cause of the disease is unknown; although some cases are hereditary, most are sporadic. It is thought to be probably the result of a combination of genetic susceptibility and exposure to one or more environmental factors.

Researchers have studied the alpha-synuclein genes. It is known that exposure to toxins has caused parkinsonian symptoms (exposure to MPTP, an illicit drug, as well as manganese metal). Research lines suggest that mitochondria, components that produce cellular energy, play a role in the development of Parkinson's disease.

Changes related to oxidative stress, proteins and fats have been identified in the brains of those affected with Parkinson's.

In the United States, nearly 60,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson's every year, and it has been seen that in developed countries there is a higher incidence of suffering from this disease that affects 1 in 100 people over 60 years worldwide and that is 50% more frequent in men than in women.

It has been difficult to establish a precise number of cases because many people who are in the early stages of the disease assume that their symptoms are due to aging.

A risk factor is age, however, around 5 to 10% of people have an "early onset" disease that begins before age 50. Some cases are linked to mutations of specific genes, such as the parkin gene.

Those who have one or more close relatives with Parkinson's are at greater risk, since it is estimated that between 15 and 25% of people with Parkinson's have a relative with the disease.


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