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Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's Disease

November 11, 2015 | by Valerie Michel Buck

In the U.S., over one million Americans suffer from Parkinson's disease (approximately 10 million worldwide). Every year, 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's. The frequency and severity of this disease increases with age. An estimated four percent of people with Parkinson's disease are diagnosed before the age of 50. [2]

Unfortunately, many of us do not understand the impact this disease can have on our families and loved ones. Many of us do not know what it is, how to treat it, or even what the signs are.


What is Parkinson's disease?

Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system. Due to increased changes in heredity, men are more likely to develop Parkinson's than women. The disease usually develops around age 60.  Ongoing exposure to herbicides and pesticides may put an individual at a slightly increased risk. [1]


What are some signs of Parkinson's? [1] [2] [3]



How Parkinson's is diagnosed?

No specific test exists to diagnose this disease. A neurologist will attempt to diagnose Parkinson's based on one's signs and symptoms, a neurological and physical examination, and one's medical history. Doctors may order tests to rule out other conditions that may be causing the symptoms. [1] [2]


If Parkinson's is not controlled? [1]



Treating Parkinson's [1]



Prevention of Parkinson's

Doctor's are not certain what causes of Parkinson's nor have clearly proven way to prevent the disease. Some research has shown that caffeine (found in coffee, tea and cola) or green tea may reduce the risk of developing Parkinson's disease. [1]


What Causes Parkinson's [2]

Generally. Generally Doctor's are unaware of the cause.

Genetically. About 15-20% of Parkinson's cases report having a relative with the disease, however researchers have found that people with an affected first-degree relative, have a 4-9% higher chance of developing Parkinson's.

Chemically. In 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs added Parkinson's to a list of diseases possibly associated with exposure to Agent Orange.  Another compound, a synthetic neurotoxin agent called MPTP can also cause immediate and permanent parkinsonism.  This compound was discovered in the 1980s in those who injected themselves with a synthetic form of heroin contaminated with MPTP.  Cases of this MPTP induced Parkinson's are rare. A veteran who was exposed to this herbicide  may have a strong case for a VA service connected compensation claim for benefits.


Economic Burden of Parkinson

The cost of Parkinson's, including treatment, social security payments and lost income from an inability to maintain employment, is estimated to be nearly $25 billion dollars per year in the United States alone.  Medication costs for an individual with Parkinson's disease average $2,500 per year and therapeutic surgery can cost up to $100,000 dollars per patient. [2]


Famous People with Parkinson's Disease [4]


  1. Muhammad Ali (diagnosed 1984 at the age of 42)
  2. Michael J. Fox (diagnosed 1991 at the age of 30)
  3. Johnny Cash (unknown diagnoses)
  4. Maurice White of Earth, Wind, and Fire (diagnosed roughly 1992)
  5. George Wallace, Democratic Presidential nominee in 1972 (diagnosed early 1990s)
  6. Estelle Getty Actress Golden Girls (unknown diagnoses)
  7. Billy Graham, Evangelist Pastor (unknown diagnoses)
  8. Charles Schultz, Peanuts comic strip (unknown diagnoses)
  9. Janet Reno, Attorney General under President Bill Clinton (unknown diagnoses)
  10. Billy Connolly, Actor (unknown year of diagnoses at the age of 70)
  11. Linda Ronstadt (unknown diagnoses)
  12. Bob Hoskins (unknown diagnoses)
  13. Pope John Paul II (unknown diagnoses)


[1] mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/parkinsons-disease/basics/symptoms/con-20028488
[2] pdf.org/about_pd
[3] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinson%27s_disease
[4] healthline.com/health-slideshow/famous-faces-parkinsons

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