What is Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurodegenerative condition. It is caused by insufficient quantities of dopamine – a chemical in the brain. Dopamine enables quick, well-coordinated movement. When dopamine levels fall, movements become slow and awkward. Parkinson’s has both motor and non-motor symptoms, and while it cannot be cured it can be treated. As Parkinson’s is a progressive condition, it can often take many years to develop and has little effect on life expectancy. Different people will experience a different number and combination of symptoms.Who gets Parkinson’s?Parkinson’s is relatively common. Approximately 1 in 500 people have the condition. It becomes more common with older age groups, and it is believed 1% of people above the age of 60 have Parkinson’s. The average age at diagnosis is 59. Although there is a slight increase in risk of development of Parkinson’s in people who have family members with Parkinson’s, the risk is very low.What causes Parkinson’s?Although we know a lot about the changes in the nerve cells of the brain in Parkinson’s, we do not yet know what causes or triggers the development of Parkinson’s. Symptoms can be treated but there is no known cure. Researchers across the world continue to investigate new treatments. Parkinson’s is often referred to as ‘Parkinson’s disease’ but it is not contagious and you cannot pass it from one person to another.

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