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Senior Health Week: Parkinson's
Health News You Can Use •

Latest Parkinson's News:

Experts Remain Unclear on Role of Dopamine in Daytime Sleepiness: Excessive daytime sleepiness can be a problem for patients suffering from Parkinson's disease, and doctors say they still are not totally clear on the extent to which use of dopamine drugs might be a factor.

Recent Parkinson's News:

Experts Back Medicare Coverage of Brain Stimulation for Parkinson's: An expert panel is preparing to recommend that Medicare provide coverage for brain stimulation to treat advanced stages of Parkinson's disease and essential tremor.

New Research Discovery Leads to Questions About Use of Dopamine: Researchers say they have identified a brain cell protein that when combined with dopamine could be linked to development of Parkinson's disease.

Depression Sufferers Three Times More Likely to Develop Parkinson's: Researchers ponder whether depression may be the first symptom of Parkinson's disease.

Mathematicians May Have Found the Origin of Parkinson's Disease Tremors: Researchers are hopeful that the findings will give them new directions for the development of Parkinson's therapies.

Deep-Brain Stimulation Helps Patients Control Parkinson's Symptoms: The technique involves involves implanting two brain pacemakers into the brain, similar to the devices used for the heart.

Growth Factor Can Dramatically Improve Patients With Advanced Parkinson's: Researchers say when pumped directly into dopamine deficient areas of the brain, growth factor produced marked improvement in the symptoms of Parkinson's disease in five patients, including their ability to walk.

Nerve Loss May Explain Why Some Patients Suffer Blood Pressure Drop: Researchers say orthostatic hypotension, previously blamed on the effects of levodopa (L-dopa), may actually be caused by a loss of sympathetic nerves as a result of the Parkinson's itself.

Fetal Cell Transplant Can Help Advanced Parkinson's Patients at Any Age: Researchers say the improvements are related not to the individual's age, but to how well the individual responded to levodopa before the transplant.

Procedure Using Cells From Retina of Human Eye Shows Promise: Researchers say cells from the retina produce dopamine as well as levodopa, a chemical that is the main ingredient of Sinemet, the standard treatment for the disease.

Patient's Own Stem Cells Can Be Used to Treat Parkinson's: Researchers say adult neural stem cells taken from a patient's central nervous system can be used in their treatment for the disease.

Researchers Say Two Common Parkinson's Drugs Act Differently: The results of brain scans in the study of pramipexole and levodopa may lead to ways to better treat the disease at an early stage, according to researchers.

Continued Improvement Reported for Patients Treated With Spheramine: Researchers report continued improvement in motor function and quality of life for Parkinson's patients treated with Spheramine® in a clinical study being performed at Emory University in Atlanta. Angeles.

Parkinson's Disease Primer:

Parkinson's disease belongs to a group of conditions called motor system disorders. Parkinson's and related disorders are the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. Dopamine is a chemical messenger responsible for transmitting signals within the brain.

Parkinson's disease occurs when certain nerve cells, or neurons, die or become impaired. Normally, these neurons produce dopamine. Loss of dopamine causes the nerve cells to fire out of control, leaving patients unable to direct or control their movement in a normal manner.

The four primary symptoms of Parkinson's are tremor or trembling in hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face; rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk; bradykinesia, or slowness of movement; and postural instability or impaired balance and coordination. Patients may also have difficulty walking, talking, or completing other simple tasks.

The disease is both chronic and progressive. Parkinson's is not usually inherited. Early symptoms are subtle and occur gradually.

A variety of medications provide dramatic relief from the symptoms, but no drug can stop the progression of the disease. In some cases, surgery is an appropriate treatment. Some doctors recommend physical therapy or muscle-strengthening exercises.

At present, there is no way to predict or prevent Parkinson's disease.

Background information provided by: The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892


































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