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02-25-2012
Parkinson's Disease

"Understanding risk factors"

By: Barbara Bluhm

PARKINSON'S DISEASE

There are a number of neurological problems that affects the morbidity and mortality of masses. Depending upon the area of brain involved, deficits may be motor or sensory. Parkinson's syndrome is a disorder of movement caused by deficient neurotransmitter release from brain. It is a neurodegenerative disease that can occur at any age, but is mostly a disease of elderly.

Etiological background of Parkinson's:

Our brain circuitry is very complex and normal functioning is dependent on a number of hormones and neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters modulate the degree and level of functioning of the body. In Parkinson Disease the brain cells produce lesser levels of dopamine due to depletion of dopamine producing cells in Substantia Niagra, which is a part of brain. Parkinson disease is a disease of elderly with mean age of onset at 60 years.

Due to depletion of dopamine, people have difficulty in maintaining normal functioning of limbs. The cause of Parkinson's is mostly idiopathic, i.e. no cause can be attributed to the causation of disease. However, some cases are believed to have genetic component as well.

Risk factors:

There are some risk factors that are associated with causation of Parkinson's disease, these risk factors are:

1. Advancing age: Advancing age has been associated with a number of neuropsychiatric illnesses and mostly attributed to pathological effects of aging at genetic level that affects the functioning of basal ganglia cells and leads to depletion of dopamine.
2. Gender: It is unclear who male are at increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease, but many studies have established that genetics and environmental factors influence the genes leading to disease process.
3. Family History: Positive family history as evident by genetic factors is an established cause of disease.
4. Head injuries: Some head injuries make a person vulnerable to developing Parkinson's disease.
5. Medications: As expected, medications that are given for the treatment of depression, anxiety and other psychiatric issues renders a person at increased risk of developing Parkinson's. However, the correct association or correlation has not yet been established.

Features of Parkinson's disease:

Some features of this devastating neurological disorder are:

Movement disorders:

a. Tremors of hand
b. Rigidity of limbs
c. Coordination of balance and movement
d. Stiffed limbs
e. Slowness of movement

Dementia:

a. Loss of affect
b. Loss of facial expressions
c. Loss of memory

Mood Disorders or disturbances:
a. Anxiety
b. Depression
c. Apathy