Parkinson’s disease is a type of condition that affects the brain wherein a low level of dopamine would limit the person’s movement. This low dopamine level would be the main cause of Parkinson’s disease as a whole, although it is still not known as to what causes the low levels of dopamine in the first place. Most scientists have linked the cause of the disease to factors such as toxins, free radicals, and abnormal genes. Although there has been no root cause yet, a recent effort has discovered that medical history may actually point out as to whether a person may have Parkinson’s Disease in the future or not. This phenomenal research studied over 200,000 people in an attempt to uncover the formula to find out how to spot potential Parkinson’s disease patients so that they can be treated earlier.
Facts About Parkinson’s Disease
In order to fully understand how Parkinson’s disease may affect patients, here are a few Parkinson’s Disease facts to take note of:
- An estimated of 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with the condition annually. There are much more cases that are undiagnosed.
- There are around 1 million Americans who live with the disease.
- There are a total of 10 million people who live with the disease all over the world.
- About 4 percent of people diagnosed with the disease get it before age 50.
- Men are 50% more probable to get the disease than women.
Although the symptoms of the disease may differ from person to person, one of the main symptoms that a patient would have would be the tremor. This disease is known to affect the motor movements of the patient which may make a patient shake uncontrollably. This shaking is known as a tremor and usually affects the hands, arms, or legs. It may also occur during sleep. This is usually the first symptom that can be seen by people who have this condition. Eventually, the tremors may move up to other areas of the body such as the tongue or the chin.
Another symptom of this disease would be stiffness in the muscles. Like the tremor, this is also a very early sign of the disease. When exhibiting this symptom, one would feel that his or her muscles will be stiff or sore. This symptom may occur in any of the muscles. Other than that, there would also be slow and limited movement. When a patient is sitting down or lying down, he or she might have a hard time getting up from the resting position. This would also cause the patient to have a hard time walking or even moving in general.
Lastly, there would be a symptom that is known as the Parkinson’s Mask. The Parkinson’s Mask is a weakness in the throat or facial muscles. This will cause the patient to have a hard time moving his or her facial muscles resulting in a “permanent poker face”. This weakness in throat or face muscles would also cause the patient to have a harder time talking or even swallowing. Patients who suffer from these symptoms are also more likely to drool a lot or a cough a lot because of his or her inability to control the muscles in the facial region.
Although there is no known cure for the disease, there are a lot of treatment methods for the disease that can be used in order to, at the very least, keep it at bay. Here are a few of the treatment options for this condition:
- Medicine - There are medicines that can help boost the dopamine in the body such as levodopa.
- Home Methods - There are also home treatment methods and lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and a healthy diet needed. These are proven to be effective in helping patients recover from the Parkinson’s disease symptoms.
- Surgery - Brain surgery is also another option to help stop the disease when other methods of treatment won’t work anymore.
- Speech Therapy - This is often used for those who have a hard time speaking because of the disease.
- Physical Therapy - This is for those who have a hard time walking or moving on his or her own.
- Occupational Therapy - This method of treatment is designed to help the patient become more independent in doing his or her daily functions.
The Research On Medical History’s Relevance to Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosis
Although there have already been some methods of treatment to help alleviate the symptoms of the disease (as mentioned above), there really has been no reliable way to help identify or determine who are the candidates for the disease. However, a team of researchers from Washington University School of Medicine may change all of that. The team of researchers from St. Louis created a study that uses data of over 200,000 patients in order to come up with a certain formula to determine whether a person will get Parkinson’s disease or not. The data used were from the patient’s medical history, the tests performed on the patients, and other medical conditions.
According to senior author of the study, Brad Racette, MD of the Robert Finke Professor of Neurology, the formula makes use of scanned and electronic medical records that are computed in a way for the physicians to determine future Parkinson\s disease. The findings of the study revealed that Parkinson’s disease patients have different medical histories from those who don’t have the tendency to develop the disease. This gives the notion that medical histories could be a great indicator to help predict the most likely candidates for the disease.
In this study, Racette and the team analyzed Medicare beneficiaries from ages 66 to 90 and were able to correctly determine 73% of people who can be diagnosed with the disease through evaluation of their age, sex, race, and history of lifestyle, as well as medical records. According to the research, the team already ruled out obesity conditions, tobacco smoking history, cardiovascular diseases, gout, physical injuries, osteoarthritis, and also cancer. Rather, the findings have concluded that the symptoms might be reflected in a certain pattern of the tests and diagnoses that the patients have accumulated over the years.
Racette also states that he would determine their gait and balance if he has seen a patient that may be in the beginning stages of the disease. This would determine the impairments and the possibilities that could lead to the difficulty of performing daily activities. From there, certain treatment methods can actually be prescribed and can be given earlier in order to nip the sickness in the bud so that the symptoms will not worsen over time.
The diagnosis of this widespread disease is extremely important because it is the type of disease that could worsen over time if left untreated. The thing about Parkinson’s disease is that it has no known cure, which means that it can only be managed. If the diagnosis of the disease is done early, then all the other worse symptoms can be prevented. This research is a milestone that can help in the earlier diagnosis of the disease. With this research, a lot of people who have Parkinson’s disease can be helped sooner so that they won’t have to suffer from the symptoms caused by the disease.