What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a progressive neurological condition, which means that it causes problems in the brain that can get worse over time. PD patients don’t have enough dopamine, a result of the death of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination.
The exact causes that lead to people getting Parkinson’s are not completely understood, but current research suggests it is a combination of age, environmental and genetic factors that cause the dopamine-producing nerve cells to deteriorate.
Nearly one million people in the U.S. and more than 10 million worldwide are living with PD. While PD incidence increases with age, almost a quarter of those affected had onset before the age of 65 years old and ~4% were diagnosed before age 50. The implication is that newly diagnosed patients can still be very active and are expected to live for many years with the disease.