What is Parkinson's?
Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological disorder, and is classified as a Movement Disorder, as it primarily affects movement. It is variable in its progression, i.e. some people progress more slowly than others, and the symptoms can be effectively controlled with medication for many years. Parkinson’s is caused by a loss of a chemical called dopamine. We all lose some of this chemical as we get older, however, it is only when we have lost about 80% of our dopamine we start to have symptoms. So people with Parkinson’s have lost this chemical at a faster rate than others.
What causes Parkinson’s?
We all have a chemical called dopamine in our body – it helps in the transmission of signals in the brain and other vital areas and is also responsible for movement. AS we age, we all lose some of this chemical. But people with Parkinson’s have lost this chemical at a faster rate than others as some nerve cells in the brain that make it have died. Signs and symptoms do not appear until 70-80% of dopamine cells are lost.
Researchers don’t know exactly why people get Parkinson’s but it is thought that combination of genetic and environmental factors lead to dopamine producing nerve cells dying.
How common is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s is the second most common neurodegenerative condition after Alzheimer’s. The incidence is 1 to 2 cases per 1000 of the general population and 1 case per 100 in people aged over 80. It’s estimated that there are around 13,000 people living with Parkinson’s in Ireland and 8 to 9 Million Worlwide.
At what age does Parkinson’s occur?
It is most commonly diagnosed in people aged over 60 but it can also affect younger people
- Early onset Parkinson’s age 40 -60
- Young onset Parkinson’s age 21 to 40
- Juvenile Parkinsonism before 20