“I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in October 2018, when I was 45 years old. Today I am 49 years old. I was in the middle of the Popstar show, which I was on. I started with the symptoms a little earlier. I started limping and people were like, ‘Why are you limping, Renata?’ And I said, “I don’t limp.” I didn’t realize I was limping.”
“I did physiotherapy, osteopathy and things haven’t changed. And then at some point, in the middle of Popstar, after the sixth show, I was at home and my arm went up on its own, stiff. And my husband who is a doctor, right after the program, he took me to a hospital that had a neurological emergency and I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It fell like an anvil on top of my head.”
According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the estimate is that 200,000 people have Parkinson’s disease in Brazil.
But what is Parkinson’s disease? Is the disease curable? O g1 answers the questions about the disease below:
- What is Parkinson’s disease? Is there a cure?
- At what age does Parkinson’s disease appear?
- What are the causes ?
- What are the symptoms and diagnosis?
- How to differentiate normal tremors from Parkinson’s symptoms?
- What treatments? What do the studies say?
What is Parkinson’s disease? Is there a cure?
Parkinson’s disease affects 1-2% of the world’s population over 65 and increases with age, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In Brazil, an estimated 200,000 people have Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disease that affects a person’s movements. It occurs due to the degeneration of cells that produce dopamine, which carries nerve currents (neurotransmitters) to the body. The lack or decrease of dopamine affects movement, causing symptoms such as tremors, muscle stiffness, imbalance.
The disease has no cure, but available treatments guarantee a minimum quality of life for patients (read more below).
“We currently have many symptomatic treatments: medicinal, surgical and behavioral, but we have no disease modifiers and no cures. Fortunately, there are over 150 ongoing studies with symptomatic and potentially disease-modifying drugs. So I believe the future will be bright,” says Mariana Moscovich, a neurologist specializing in movement disorders.
At what age does Parkinson’s disease appear?
The most common age is over 60. However, a small percentage of patients may develop the disease at a younger age.. “These patients usually have a genetic etiology (genetic cause with a known gene) and show clinical differences from older patients,” Moscovich points out.
She also explains that early Parkinson’s disease occurs between the ages of 21 and 40/50. Juvenile Parkinson’s disease, on the other hand, is diagnosed before the age of 21.
The cause of Parkinson’s disease is thought to be multifactorial. “Genes “load the gun” and the environment “pulls the trigger”. This means that the patient may have a genetic alteration and environmental factors will turn this gene on or off.“, explains the neurologist.
According to the expert, certain factors can increase a person’s chances of developing the disease, such as environmental and genetic risk factors.
“Studies show that 3-5% of cases of patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease can be linked to a genetic cause. There are several genes that have already been recognized as being at the origin of the disease, some with autosomal recessive transmission, others with autosomal dominant transmission. “, it says.
Parkinson’s disease affects the brain’s ability to control movement, resulting in tremors, muscle stiffness, slowness of movement, and changes in gait and balance — Photo: StockSnap for Pixabay
What are the symptoms and diagnosis?
Although the motor symptoms are the main characteristic of the disease and determine its diagnosis, non-motor symptoms are very important as they have a great impact on the patient’s quality of lifeexplains Moscovich.
- Tremor (which may be absent in 20% of cases);
- Gait and balance disorder
- decrease in writing
- Depression, anxiety, mood disorders, apathy
- cognitive disorders
- Autonomic dysfunctions (orthostatic hypotension, gastrointestinal symptoms, constipation, urinary problems, sexual dysfunction)
- sleep disorders
The diagnosis of the disease is based on the clinical history and neurological examination of the patient. There is no specific test for its diagnosis or for its prevention.
How to differentiate normal tremors from Parkinson’s symptoms?
“Overall, patients with Parkinsonian tremor have a slower tremor. It usually occurs at rest, when the patient is distracted, and asymmetrically – compromising one side more than the other,” explains the neurologist.
In essential tremor, the patient has a faster tremor and is present in both hands. “It occurs when the patient is nervous or performing an action. These patients usually have a family member with the same symptoms and report that the tremor started at a young age, without much progression or worsening,” he adds. .
What treatments? What do the studies say?
According to the specialist, among the available therapies are: drugs, surgery and multidisciplinary care, which can provide relief and improve the patient’s quality of life. “The main drugs available today for use in the treatment of motor symptoms are levodopa, dopamine agonists and MAO-B inhibitors”.
Moscovich says there are new therapies, especially for treating the non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Some are already available in the United States and Europe and, at some point, should arrive in Brazil.
About the studies, she clarified that there are studies in clinical trials for the treatment of motor and non-motor symptoms, as well as treatments that aim to prevent, slow or reduce the general progression of Parkinson’s disease.
“Neuroprotective investigations are at the forefront of research on Parkinson’s disease. Several molecules have been proposed as potential treatments, however, none of them have conclusively demonstrated the reduction of degeneration. The reduction of alpha-synuclein pathology is the primary focus of preclinical research A vaccine that primes the human immune system to destroy alpha-synuclein has entered clinical trials and a 2020 phase 1 report suggested the safety and tolerability,” he concludes.
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