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What is Parkinson's
"In fact, Parkinson’s has made me a better person. A better husband, father and overall human being.”
— Michael J Fox
Parkinson Disease (PD) is a chronic, progressive, neurological disease that destroys the cells in the mid brain which produce "dopamine", one of the chemicals that transmits movement control signals. When approximately 80% of these cells no longer produce dopamine, one or more of PD's primary movement symptoms begin to appear: resting tremor; slowness of movement; stiffness; and/or gait or balance problems. Other symptoms such as small cramped handwriting, lack of arm swing, and decreased facial expression may appear.
It is estimated that some people with PD may also experience symptoms such as depression, anxiety attacks, or cognitive impairment. In addition, certain functions controlled by the autonomic nervous system may become affected, such as respiratory, blood pressure, and gastrointestinal.
It is estimated that 50,000 people in the US are diagnosed with Parkinson's each year. There are about one million people in the US living with the disease. Estimates vary due to the fact that there is no objective test for Parkinson's thus making the rate of misdiagnosis high.
PD strikes about 50 percent more men than women, but the reason for this discrepancy is unclear. While it occurs in people throughout the world, a number of studies have found a higher incidence in developed countries possibly because of increased exposure to pesticides or other toxins in those countries.
The average onset age is 60 years and the incidence rises significantly with increasing age. However about five to ten percent of people with PD have "early onset" disease that begins before the age of 50.
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