What is it? Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that causes a gradual loss of muscle control. The symptoms of Parkinson’s tend to be mild at first and can sometimes be overlooked. Distinctive signs of the disease include tremors, stiffness, slowed body movements, and poor balance. Parkinson’s was originally called a “shaking palsy,” but not everyone with Parkinson’s has a tremor.
Statistics: The average age of onset is 62, but people over 60 still have only a 2% to 4% likelihood of developing the disease. Having a family member with PD slightly increases your risk. Men are one-and-a-half times more likely to have Parkinson’s than women.
A progressive neurologic disease, Parkinson’s affects up to 1 million people in the U.S.
Important Facts: Tremor is an early symptom for about 70% of people with Parkinson’s. It usually occurs in a finger or hand when the hand is at rest — but not when the hand is in use.
As people grow older, they naturally slow down. But if they have “bradykinesia,” a sign of Parkinson’s, the slow movement may impair daily life. When they want to move, the body may not respond right away, or they may suddenly stop or “freeze.” The shuffling walk and “mask-like” face sometimes found in those with Parkinson’s can be due to bradykinesia.
Iron May Increase Risk of Parkinson’s — With apologies to Popeye, there may be a downside to eating too much spinach. New research suggests that people who have high amounts of iron in their diets may be at increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Strong Placebo, Strong Parkinson’s Effect — An extreme placebo treatment — brain surgery — had a strong positive effect on Parkinson’s patients.
Dos/Don’ts: Twice-Weekly Resistance Training Sessions Can Improve Tremors, Slowness, and Rigidity — Weight training twice a week may reduce the stiffness, slowness, and tremors often seen in people with Parkinson’s disease, a new study shows.
Treadmill Walking Improves Parkinson’s Symptoms — People with Parkinson’s disease who walk on a treadmill at a comfortable, low-intensity speed may be able to improve their gait and mobility, new research indicates.
Common Myths: Alcohol Doesn’t Protect From Parkinson’s — New research argues against a direct relationship between Parkinson’s disease and an aversion to addictive behaviors. The findings challenge the idea of a so-called ‘Parkinson’s personality’ in people predisposed to develop the disease.
Nicotine Improves Some Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease — It’s the drug that hooks cigarette smokers, sending many of them to an early grave. But it may actually help patients with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, Tourette’s syndrome, and several other neurological disorders.