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.