More than one million people in the United States have Parkinson’s disease, a neurological condition marked by tremor, sluggish movement and cognitive changes such as memory problems, planning difficulties, and attention issues. While the precise cause remains unknown, there are several risk factors that heighten the chance of getting it.
1 — Who is at high Risk for Parkinson’s?
“The incidence of Parkinson’s disease goes up with age, so the older people are more likely to get it,” says Dr. Tzviya Fay Karmon, a movement disorders expert at Sheba Medical Center. “Parkinson’s disease is more common in males than females. There are several genetic factors that can raise one’s risk of getting Parkinson’s disease, and being closely related to a Parkinson’s patient raises the risk; nevertheless, most Parkinson’s cases do not have a genetic basis.”
2 — Genetics
Melita Petrossian, MD, a neurologist, says that “the exact reason is unknown. Many people who get PD are over 50 years old, suggesting that age is the most significant risk factor. Around 5% of people have a genetic fault that causes Parkinson’s disease; there are several known gene mutations that do so. Genetic changes may be responsible for PD in families with a history of many cases or those who show symptoms before age 40.”
3 — Other Causes can Include a Combination of Factors
According to Dr. Petrossian, “In most situations, PD is caused by a combination of aging, genetic vulnerabilities that predispose people to the disease, and exposure to environmental factors. Many possible causes have been proposed, including as repetitive head trauma, prolonged contact with solvents or pesticides, and other yet unidentified dietary or atmospheric chemicals. One thing we do know for certain is that the nervous system and brain undergo changes such as brain cell atrophy, altered neurotransmitters levels in certain areas of the brain (including those responsible for memory), and an increase in misfolded protein masses in all other cells of the brain.”
4 — Environment Plays a Role
“There are numerous environmental elements that might raise the danger of getting Parkinson’s, including heavy metals, pesticides and other chemicals,” says Dr. Karmon. “Recurrent head injuries can also raise the chance of developing Parkinson’s.”
5 — Lifestyle Factors that raise the Risk of Parkinson’s
Regular exercise lowers the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and slows its progression, according to Dr. Karmon. “Studies have also shown a link between green tea drinking and caffeine consumption and a decreased incidence of Parkinson’s disease,” says Dr. Karmon.
6 — How Parkinson’s Can Affect Daily Life and Overall Health?
Dr. Karmon says, “Parkinson’s disease has a wide range of ramifications for its sufferers. The most noticeable symptoms are slowness, stiffness, tremor, and stability issues. These problems can lead to difficulties in daily activity, hand function difficulties, the risk of falls while walking, difficulty swallowing and speaking difficulties. In addition to these symptoms there are other non-motor characteristics – pain, urinary incontinence, constipation, falls, sleep disturbances, and poor moods.”