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Does Parkinson’s Affect The Brain

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How Does Parkinson Affect The Nervous System

Dr. James Beck – How does Parkinson’s disease affect the brain?

What Is Parkinsons?Parkinsons Effect On The Nervous System And Dopamine.The Two Types Of Parkinsons Related To The Nervous Systemdistinct subtypesAutonomic Nervous System And Parkinsons

  • Breathing.
  • Blood pressure.
  • Heart rate.
  • How To Keep Your Nervous System Healthy?Here are some important recommendations:

  • You should always monitor your eating routine to maintain the glucose neurons use for energy.
  • Make sure to keep up a balanced diet with some healthy fats. Your diet should include good levels of B-12 and D vitamins.
  • Avoid drinking excessive alcohol as well as smoking.
  • Maintain a solid sleep schedule .
  • Keep your brain active through playing mind games and writing by hand.
  • Always try to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Avoid chronic stress activities that require repetitive motion.
  • Make sure to adjust your spine regularly by a chiropractor.
  • Related Diagnosis: Lewy Body Dementia

    Current research is helping to differentiate dementia related conditions in relationship to Parkinsonâs disease. Doctorâs use a 12-month arbitrary rule to aid in diagnosis. When dementia is present before or within 1 year of Parkinsonâs motor symptoms developing, an individual is diagnosed with DLB. Those who have an existing diagnosis of Parkinsonâs for more than a year, and later develop dementia, are diagnosed with PDD.

    In the simplest terms, Lewy bodies are abnormal clumps of proteins that develop in nerve cells. Cholinesterase inhibitors, medications originally developed for Alzheimerâs disease, are the standard treatment today for cognitive DLB and PDD symptoms. Early diagnosis is important, as DLB patients may respond differently than Alzheimerâs disease patients to certain drug, behavioral, and dementia care treatments.

    This challenging, multi-system disorder involving movement, cognition, behavior, sleep, and autonomic function requires a comprehensive treatment approach to maximize the quality of life for both the care recipient and their caregiver. It is very important to pay attention to symptoms of dementia and to search for an expert clinician who can diagnose the condition accurately.

    Cognitive Changes In Pd

    Cognitive symptoms in Parkinsons disease are common, though not every person experiences them. In some people with PD, the cognitive changes are mild. In others, however, cognitive deficits may become more severe and impact daily functioning. Similar to slowness of movement , people with Parkinsons disease often report slower thinking and information processing . Attention and working memory, executive function, and visuospatial function are the most frequently affected cognitive domains in PD.

    Cognitive deficits that are mild and do not impair ones ability to carry out activities of daily living have been termed mild cognitive impairment. Studies estimate that mild cognitive impairment occurs in about 20-50% of patients with PD. We now recognize that mild cognitive changes may be present at the time of Parkinsons disease diagnosis or even early in the course of PD. They may or may not be noticeable to the person. They may or may not affect work or activities, depending on the demands of specific tasks and work situations.

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    So What Do We Know So Far

    Location of the substantia nigra. FrozenManCC BY-SA 4.0

    The substantia nigra is an area of the mid brain located at the top of the spinal cord, which has been the focus of much work into how Parkinsons affects the brain.

    There are a right and a left substantia nigra, and often one side is affected before the other. Because of this, people with Parkinsons often experience symptoms primarily on one side of their body, particularly in the early stages. Indeed, this common feature of the condition often helps to distinguish Parkinsons from other similar conditions.

    When it comes to confirming a diagnosis, it is the substantia nigra where pathologists look for changes at the end of life in brain tissue that has been donated to research. And the loss of the dopamine-producing cells in this area of the brain, accompanied by the presence of clumps of alpha-synuclein protein , has been the hallmark of Parkinsons for decades.

    You can read more about the alpha-synuclein protein, and how it plays a role in the spread of Parkinsons, in a previous blog post:

    Attention Difficulties In Parkinsons

    Study reveals roots of Parkinson

    Attention involves filtering information, and people with PD who experience attention difficulties have trouble maintaining focus, especially as the complexity of a situation increases. Attention difficulties can affect both intellectual pursuits and everyday activities, such as walking and holding a conversation at the same time.1,3

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    Beyond The Substantia Nigra

    In Parkinsons, other areas of the brain beyond the substantia nigra are involved as the condition progresses. Changes in higher brain areas are linked to non-motor symptoms that can affect people with Parkinsons later on in the condition, and often have a significant impact on quality of life.

    For instance, symptoms that affect memory and thinking can be linked to the presence of Lewy bodies in the largest area of the brain the cerebral cortex as well as the limbic system. The limbic system is also believed to be involved in symptoms involving mood and pain, and similar changes in the inferior temporal gyrus, an area of the brain involved in processing what we see, are thought to be the reason for hallucinations.

    But research into the spread of Parkinsons through these areas, and how we can stop it , is just one side of the story. There is also ongoing research into where Parkinsons starts, and the effects it is having before it reaches these areas.

    The presence of non-motor symptoms many months and maybe even years before the physical symptoms, such as tremor and slowness of movement, points towards the presence of other changes in the body long before the loss of dopamine-producing cells in the substantia nigra. These early symptoms could even help researchers predict those who will go on to be diagnosed with Parkinsons, which would help in the development of new and better treatments.

    Drug Therapy And Research

    If the disease progresses beyond minor symptoms, drug treatment may be indicated. Drug therapy for Parkinsonâs typically provides relief for 10â15 years or more. The most commonly prescribed medication is L-dopa , and this helps replenish some of the depleted dopamine in the brain. Sinemet, a combination of levodopa and carbidopa, is the drug most doctors use to treat Parkinsonâs disease. Recent clinical studies have suggested, in the younger person, the class of drugs called âdopamine agonistsâ should be used prior to levodopa-carpidopa except in patients with cognitive problems or hallucinations. In those older than 75, dopamine agonists should be used cautiously because of an added risk of hallucinations.

    Other drugs are also used, and new drugs are continually being tested. It is common for multiple drugs to be prescribed because many of them work well together to control symptoms and reduce side effects. Contrary to past beliefs, starting Sinemet in newly diagnosed people does not lead to early symptoms of dyskinesia . Current knowledge is that the disease progression causes dyskinesias, not a âresistanceâ to the drug.

    Quality of life studies show that early treatment with dopaminergic medications improves daily functioning, prevents falls, and improves a personâs sense of well-being.

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    How Is A Diagnosis Made

    Because other conditions and medications mimic the symptoms of PD, getting an accurate diagnosis from a physician is important. No single test can confirm a diagnosis of PD, because the symptoms vary from person to person. A thorough history and physical exam should be enough for a diagnosis to be made. Other conditions that have Parkinsons-like symptoms include Parkinsons plus, essential tremor, progressive supranuclear palsy, multi-system atrophy, dystonia, and normal pressure hydrocephalus.

    What Causes Parkinson Disease

    Parkinson’s Disease: How is the brain affected?

    Parkinson disease arises from decreased dopamine production in the brain. The absence of dopamine makes it hard for the brain to coordinate muscle movements. Low dopamine also contributes to mood and cognitive problems later in the course of the disease. Experts don’t know what triggers the development of Parkinson disease most of the time. Early onset Parkinson disease is often inherited and is the result of certain gene defects.

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    How Parkinsons Disease Affects The Autonomic Nervous System And The Heart

    In PD, there are two major reasons why the automatic control of the cardiac system is impaired. First, areas of the brain that control this system often contain Lewy bodies and have undergone neurodegeneration. In addition, the autonomic nervous system itself is directly affected by Lewy body-like accumulations and neurodegeneration. This means, when the baroreceptors in the heart and carotid artery sense a drop in blood pressure and try to generate a signal to the heart and blood vessels to increase the blood pressure, the message may not get through. This results in neurogenic orthostatic hypotension , or drops in blood pressure upon standing due to autonomic nervous system dysfunction. There are no medications that can cure nOH by restoring the autonomic nervous system in PD. nOH however, can be treated. Read more about nOH and its treatments here.

    Structural problems of the heart such as coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathy are not thought to be part of the pathology of PD, although of course, could co-exist with PD.

    How Parkinsons Disease Affects The Brain

    The Parkinson’s disease brain stops producing dopamine cells, which in turn causes problems with movement and coordination known as motor symptoms. We all have a basic understanding of how Parkinson’s disease affects the brain, but what really happens when someone has Parkinson’s disease? Let’s explore the facts surrounding the Parkinson’s disease brain and how it differs from a normal, “healthy” brain.

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    When People Talk About Parkinsons They May Mention The Effects It Has On The Substantia Nigra But Did You Know That There Are Other Areas Of The Brain That Are Affected By The Condition

    Parkinsons is a condition that causes the gradual loss of the dopamine-producing brain cells of the substantia nigra an area of the brain located just above where the spinal cord meets the midbrain. It is these cells that produce and release the neurotransmitter dopamine, which has a key role in turning thought about movement into action.

    While this definition of the condition is useful to briefly explain Parkinsons, the whole story is somewhat more complex. Over the last 30 years, it has become accepted that Parkinsons also causes a number of non-motor symptoms, such as changes in sleep, smell and even the way we think, which likely involve other areas of the brain.

    Now scientists are looking at the broader effects of the condition on the brain in an attempt to better understand why people experience different symptoms. The finding could lead us to new treatments that tackle more than just the motor symptoms of the condition.

    Causes Of Parkinsons Disease

    Parkinsons Disease  Medical

    At present, we do not know the cause of Parkinsons disease. In most people there is no family history of Parkinsons Researchers worldwide are investigating possible causes, including:

    • environmental triggers, pesticides, toxins, chemicals
    • genetic factors
    • combinations of environment and genetic factors
    • head trauma.

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    Essay About Parkinsons Disease

    language, called Wernickes aphasia. Cerebral palsy is a broad term for brain damage sustained close to birth that permanently affects motor function. The damage may take place either in the developing fetus, during birth, or just after birth and is the result of the faulty development or breaking down of motor pathways. Cerebral palsy is non-progressive that is, it does not worsen with time. During childhood development, the brain is particularly susceptible to damage because of the rapid growth

    Is Parkinsons Disease Inherited

    Scientists have discovered gene mutations that are associated with Parkinsons disease.

    There is some belief that some cases of early-onset Parkinsons disease disease starting before age 50 may be inherited. Scientists identified a gene mutation in people with Parkinsons disease whose brains contain Lewy bodies, which are clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein. Scientists are trying to understand the function of this protein and its relationship to genetic mutations that are sometimes seen in Parkinsons disease and in people with a type of dementia called Lewy body dementia.

    Several other gene mutations have been found to play a role in Parkinsons disease. Mutations in these genes cause abnormal cell functioning, which affects the nerve cells ability to release dopamine and causes nerve cell death. Researchers are still trying to discover what causes these genes to mutate in order to understand how gene mutations influence the development of Parkinsons disease.

    Scientists think that about 10% to 15% of persons with Parkinsons disease may have a genetic mutation that predisposes them to development of the disease. There are also environmental factors involved that are not fully understood.

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    Parkinsons & The Substantia Nigra

    The substantia nigra is a part of the midbrain just above the spinal cord. Itâs also part of the basal ganglia, an area of the brain that scientists believe controls movement. Healthy brains contain an abundance of dopamine-producing cells in this part of the brain. The natural chemical dopamine is essential for regulating both movement and mood.

    A dramatic 80% drop in these dopamine cells is what causes the symptoms of Parkinsonâs disease. Doctors and researchers are unsure why this process occurs. In addition to the effects previously mentioned, this dopamine loss may cause patients to experience slowness of movement, an inability to concentrate, and speech difficulties.

    Parkinsons & Brain Treatments

    Impact of Falls and Parkinson’s Disease

    A doctor may prescribe medications to conserve dopamine in the brain and replace missing amounts of the chemical. This protects the brain and slows down the progression of symptoms. Another option is deep brain stimulation. This surgical procedure implants a special device into the brain, which creates electrical signals that help stimulate body movement.

    While living with this condition causes significant alterations to the brain, you or your loved one will still be able to thrive and enjoy an excellent quality of life. The volunteers at Connecticut Advocates for Parkinson’s of Hartford County, CT, are focused on providing each affected person with wellness and educational opportunities to make this possible. For information about their support groups and events for men and women with Parkinsonâs, call 266-6040, or visit their website. Explore community activities and discover care tips by following their page.

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    What Treatments Are Available

    Many Parkinson’s patients enjoy an active lifestyle and a normal life expectancy. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet and staying physically active contributes to overall health and well-being. Parkinson’s disease can be managed with self-care, medication, and surgery.

    Self careExercise is as important as medication in the treatment of PD. It helps maintain flexibility and improves balance and range of motion. Patients may want to join a support group and continue enjoyable activities to improve their quality of life. Equally important is the health and well being of the family and caregivers who are also coping with PD. For additional pointers, see Coping With Parkinsons Disease.

    These are some practical tips patients can use:

    Medications There are several types of medications used to manage Parkinson’s. These medications may be used alone or in combination with each other, depending if your symptoms are mild or advanced.

    After a time on medication, patients may notice that each dose wears off before the next dose can be taken or erratic fluctuations in dose effect . Anti-Parkinsons drugs can cause dyskinesia, which are involuntary jerking or swaying movements that typically occur at peak dosage and are caused by an overload of dopamine medication. Sometimes dyskinesia can be more troublesome than the Parkinsons symptoms.

    Incidence Of Parkinsons Disease

    Its estimated that approximately four people per 1,000 in Australia have Parkinsons disease, with the incidence increasing to one in 100 over the age of 60. In Australia, there are approximately 80,000 people living with Parkinsons disease, with one in five of these people being diagnosed before the age of 50. In Victoria, more than 2,225 people are newly diagnosed with Parkinsons every year.

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    Research Is Underway To Further Understand The Cardiac Effects Of Parkinsons

    It is possible to image the sympathetic nervous system of the human heart by injecting a radioactive tracer, meta-iodo-benzyl-guanidine, . Development of this technique, known as MIBG cardiac imaging, holds much promise as a test to confirm the diagnosis of PD , to identify those who are at risk of developing PD in the future, and to distinguish PD from related disorders. MIBG cardiac imaging is still considered an experimental procedure for detection of PD and is not yet in use as a clinical tool for this purpose.

    A recent research was conducted in monkeys in which the destruction of the sympathetic nerves of the heart was chemically induced to mimic the changes that are seen in PD. The cardiac system was then imaged using a number of new-generation radioactive tracers, which bind to markers of inflammation and oxidative stress. This model system may help to shed light on the molecular changes that accompany the loss of the sympathetic nerves of the heart and can also be used to track the response of the cardiac system to therapeutic agents.

    How Is Parkinsons Disease Managed

    The placebo effect  How It Works

    Your doctors will tailor your treatment based on your individual circumstances. You will manage your condition best if you have the support of a team, which may include a general practitioner, neurologist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, psychologist, specialist nurse and dietitian.

    While there is no cure for Parkinsons disease, symptoms can be treated with a combination of the following.

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