Arthur Schoenstadt, MD, author of the eMedTV article “Parkinson's Disease Statistics,” explains that doctors diagnose about 50,000 people in the United States with Parkinson's disease every year; however, a more accurate statistic is not available due to people not seeking medical help, believing that their symptoms are part of aging. A motor system disorder, Parkinson's disease results from a significant drop in dopamine, a neurotransmitter. In the brain of a Parkinson's disease patient, the destruction of dopamine-producing neurons occur, leading to a decrease in dopamine. Without an adequate level of dopamine, patients have mobility problems.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) points out that Parkinson's disease has four hallmark symptoms: tremors, bradykinesia, rigidity and postural instability. The tremors can affect the face, hands, jaw, arms and legs. With bradykinesia, patients have a slowed movement. Parkinson's disease patients may develop dementia as the disease progresses. MedlinePlus adds that Parkinson's disease commonly develops after the age of 50, though doctors are not sure why the dopamine-producing cells waste away in the brain.
A new study published in the journal Neurology notes that a type of sleep disorder called REM sleep behavior disorder may help predict the development of Parkinson's disease in patients. REM sleep behavior sleep disorder occurs during one of the stages of sleep, rapid eye movement sleep, or REM sleep. Patients with REM sleep behavior disorder act out their dreams in a violent way. For example, they may start punching and kicking or yelling in their sleep.
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