PARKINSON'S DISEASE

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive movement disorder. The cause is unknown, but it involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons. PD primarily affects neurons in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra. Some of these dying neurons produce dopamine, a chemical that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. As PD progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally. Main symptoms of PD include slowness, tremor and gait or balance problems. PD appears mostly in elderly over 60 years old, but approximately 10% of sufferers are below the age of 40.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Parkinson’s Disease?

A: Parkinson's disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive movement disorder. The cause is unknown, but it involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons. Parkinson's primarily affects neurons in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra. Some of these dying neurons produce dopamine, a chemical that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. As PD progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally.

PD appears mostly in elderly over 60 years old, but approximately 10% of sufferers are below the age of 40.

Q: What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?

A: Primary motor signs of Parkinson’s disease include the following:

  • Tremor of the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face

  • Bradykinesia or slowness of movement

  • Rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk

  • Postural instability or impaired balance and coordination

Q: How to treat Parkinson’s Disease?

A: Until now, there is no ways to cure Parkinson’s disease, but its symptoms can be relieved by the following drugs:

  • Levodopa: Considered as the “golden standard” for initial symptomatic treatment of PD, and is highly effective.

  • Dopamine agonist: Acts as a substitute for dopamine in the brain and has a direct action on dopamine receptors. Examples are apomorphine, pramipexole, ropinirole, bromocriptine.

  • MAO-B (monoamine oxidase-B) Inhibitors: Slows the breakdown of dopamine in the brain. Examples are selegiline and rasagiline.

  • COMT (Catechol-O-methyl-transferase) Inhibitors: Prolongs the effectiveness of a dose of levodopa by preventing its breakdown. An example is entacapone.

  • Antimuscarinics: Have a weak antiparkinsonian effect compared with levodopa. They reduce tremor and rigidity but have little effect on bradykinesia. Examples include orphenadrine and benztropine.

  • Amantadine: A weak dopamine agonist with some antimuscarinic activity, providing short-term relief of symptoms of mild, early-stage Parkinson's disease.

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