What is Parkinson's disease?

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Parkinson’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease. It is characterised by psychomotor delay, rigidity, tremor, and changes in gait. There is still no treatment that can cure or modify the outcome of the disease, but there are many drugs and surgical treatments available to improve the symptoms.

The appearance is gradual and has a progressive course. It is currently considered a multiple systemic disease with many non-motor, as well as motor symptoms.

Parkinson’s disease explained in first person

Professionals and patients explain how you live with the disease
There are many ongoing lines of research that are exploring both the cause of the disease and treatments that can modify the course of the disease. There are many treatments available that will allow you to lead a quality life for many years.
Research keeps going forward. There are surgical interventions that can improve our quality of life a lot.

Types of Parkinson’s disease

It is a neurodegenerative disease, the second most common after Alzheimer’s disease. It is characterised by neurodegeneration, initially in the brain stem that includes the substantia nigra (black substance) of the mesencephalon. This leads to a dopamine deficiency that explains the motor symptoms and part of the non-motor symptoms of the disease. As the disease progresses, many other types of neurons in the brain are diffusely affected. The neurons that are diseased are called Lewy bodies, which are bound to proteins like alpha-synuclein. For this reason, Parkinson’s disease is classified as a synucleinopathy.

How many people are affected?

An incidence of between 8 and 19 new cases per 100,000 people per year has been reported in the general population. It is rare in people younger than 40 years and increases with age. At 65 years it would be approximately 50 per 100,000, and at 85 years about 400 per 100,000. It is estimated that the incidence will double in the coming decades. The prevalence (persons affected at a determined time, whether new or previously) increases with age, and it is estimated to be around 0.5% at 65 years, and between 1% - 4% between 70-85 years. It affects between 100 and 200 cases for every 100,000 persons. It is slightly more frequent in males than in females (ratio 3:2, approximately).

Substantiated information by:

Almudena Sánchez Gómez
Ana Cámara Lorenzo
Maria José Martí
Yaroslau Compta Hirnyj

Published: 8 July 2019
Updated: 14 November 2019

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