HEALTHIER AGING: Helping your patient manage Parkinson's disease

August 2006 
Volume 36  Number 8
Pages 20 - 21
  PDF Version Available!



MORE THAN 1 million people in the United States live with Parkinson's disease (PD), and most of them are older than 65. As the number of older Americans increases, the number of people diagnosed with PD is expected to increase. In this article, I'll explain how to assess a patient with PD and help her manage her condition.

Progressive deterioration

A slowly progressive, chronic neurodegenerative disorder, PD is caused by the loss of dopamine-producing cells in the substantia nigra, a part of the basal ganglia in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that carries messages to parts of the brain that control movement. As dopamine levels decline, the patient loses the ability to initiate and control his movements normally.

Although studies have linked PD to a combination of environmental causes, including pesticide exposure, and genetic factors, we still don't know its exact cause. Some studies show that ...

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