Advancements in Parkinson's Disease Treatment: Progressive Perspective
“According to a study, nearly 90,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease each year.”
Parkinson’s Disease Treatments are still in the research phase while curing it is not possible today. Our current technology and research show that we are able to detect this progressive neurodegenerative disorder by recognizing slowed movements, tremors, and balance issues.
Before the age of 50, the incidence of Parkinson’s disease was approximately 4% among individuals suffering from PD, and this rate escalates with age. Some people may even notice symptoms before they turn 40. Men have a slightly higher probability of developing Parkinson’s disease compared to women.
Parkinson’s disease, being incurable, primarily offers treatments that focus largely on managing the symptoms. The options available range from supportive therapies such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy to medication and in certain circumstances, brain surgery. Nonetheless, there are a few strategies that may potentially aid in preventing its onset and slowing down its progression. This article offers a comprehensive insight into the role of genetics in the disease, addresses who is at the highest risk, and explores various approaches to prevent Parkinson’s disease.
Although Parkinson’s disease has a genetic component, it is not strictly hereditary. Certain forms of the disease result from specific gene mutations such as SNCA and LRRK2. Its inheritance patterns vary, becoming dominant if one parent carries the gene, and recessive if both parents do. However, possessing a defective gene does not guarantee the development of Parkinson’s disease. In fact, around 90% of cases involve other contributing factors.
Sex is a risk factor for Parkinson’s: Men are 1.4 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than women. According to ongoing research, it shows potential links. Some consider estrogen, a female dominating hormone to be a potential protective factor.
The risk climbs with age while a study shows that Parkinson’s relates to aging. If you’re 60 or older, the chances increase, with three-quarters of cases seen in adults over 65. Parkinson’s is related to neuron degeneration in the brain’s substantia nigra. This process depreciates as we age.
External factors such as exposure to pesticides, airborne copper, manganese, or lead, reduced sunlight, and nitrogen dioxide in the air could potentially elevate the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease at an early age, even before turning 50. While research continues to explore the exact links, these substances are known to impact dopamine functioning, thereby influencing motor function. Both the workplace and geographic location play a significant role in potential exposure to these substances.
Having certain medical conditions earlier in life has been linked with developing Parkinson’s disease. These conditions include:
Obesity: Possessing a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher can lead to a decrease in dopamine receptors in the striatum brain region. Research indicates that this correlation is associated with the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, establishing obesity as a risk factor.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): A history of TBI — stemming from an injury to the brain due to a blow to the head or whiplash — can increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease. It’s related to the degeneration of neurons integral to motor function.
Diabetes Mellitus: Diabetes, characterized by the body’s inability to break down sugars, is shown to be linked to Parkinson’s disease. Amylin, a hormone secreted at high levels during insulin use for diabetes medication, can cross the blood-brain barrier and impact dopamine function when present in excess.
Cancer: A personal medical history of skin cancer (melanoma) and prostate cancer are also recognized as risk factors for Parkinson’s disease. These forms of cancer can increase the activity of alpha-synuclein (SNCA), a gene associated with the development of Parkinson’s disease.
Currently, there is no definitive cure or diagnostic test for Parkinson’s disease. Neurologists base their diagnosis on each patient’s medical history, a detailed review of the symptoms, and a comprehensive neurological and physical examination conducted by Parkinson’s disease specialists. Ancillary lab tests, such as blood tests, may be prescribed to rule out any other conditions potentially causing the symptoms. Imaging tests, such as MRIs, ultrasounds of the brain, and PET scans, may also be deployed to help discount other disorders.
Dopamine Transporter (DAT) scan in the brain, is an imaging test that is used specifically for diagnosing Parkinsonism. Researchers are presently working on developing new diagnostic instruments. For instance, a blood test that detects the presence of alpha-synuclein in the blood shows promise in diagnosing Parkinson’s disease. Such tests could potentially provide an objective measure of the efficacy of new treatments in clinical trials. Furthermore, these tests could identify those at risk before the onset of Parkinson’s symptoms, facilitating early intervention.
While no specific test exists for Parkinson’s disease, doctors utilize various neurological evaluations to identify signs of the disorder. These tests typically focus on one’s motor and physical abilities. Some of the commonly pursued tests include:
Tests of repetitive movement assess motor coordination. A neurologist observes tasks like hand movements.
Observation: Neurologists watch for spontaneous movements during activities like sitting, standing, or walking.
Tremor assessment: Evaluate rest tremors by observing stillness and focusing on tasks.
Rigidity assessment: Screen for joint stiffness by manipulating hand movements. Conduct a pull test to assess posture and balance. Pull the patient back while standing to check stability.
Genetic tests are considered for Parkinson’s when there’s suspicion of genetic links or a family history. Mutations in genes like SNCA, PRKN, and PINK1 are identifiable through tests. They indicate a genetic cause and influence diagnosis.
Regular exercise can slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease and potentially delay its onset. A 2015 study found that people aged 35-39 who regularly participated in physical activity had a 40% lower risk of developing the condition. Exercise can also improve motor function, balance, and strength in diagnosed patients. Doctors recommend physical exercise and physical therapy for Parkinson’s disease. They recommend them alongside traditional therapy especially combined with strength and balance training.
Food & Nutrition
Adopting a Mediterranean diet may help delay the onset of Parkinson’s disease. Reducing dairy intake and increasing caffeine consumption might also help. Reducing alcohol consumption may also help, but more research is needed in this area
Treatments for Parkinson’s disease aer aimed at addressing symptoms such as tremors, rigidity, and postural problems. Early detection, understanding your risks, and making lifestyle changes may help slow the progression of the illness and delay its onset. Always consult with your healthcare provider about preventive measures and management strategies before applying them.
Disclaimer: The content presented in these articles is intended solely for informational purposes. It is not designed to replace the guidance, expertise, or advice given by licensed healthcare professionals or physicians. The information provided should not be perceived as medical advice or therapeutic suggestions. Before initiating any treatment or altering your healthcare routine, please consult with suitable physicians or healthcare providers for accurate diagnosis and proper therapeutic solutions.