“Everyday, more than 100 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in Pakistan and an estimated 6 million people worldwide are suffering from this disease,” revealed leading neurologists in a press briefing to commemorate ‘World Parkinson’s Awareness Week,’ supported by GSK Pakistan.
Dr. Shahid Mustafa, Neurologist, AKUH, stated that, “Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a movement disorder. A vital chemical in the brain called dopamine is gradually reduced. It progresses slowly and brings on symptoms of tremor, slowness in movement, stiff limbs, and walking or balance problems. Moreover, there is no definitive test to detect Parkinson’s disease or Parkinsonism. For diagnosis, doctors take a thorough medical history and may request a number of movement tests.”
He further added, “Numerous studies concluded that approximately 5% of patients have an onset before the age of 50 and 2% of those aged 65 years and above. The average age of diagnosis is around 60, but approximately 15% of people with Parkinson’s are diagnosed before age 50 and are said to have young-onset Parkinson’s disease. A number of researchers have found that increased risk of developing disease is 1.5 to 2-fold in males as compared to females but, other studies have however reported no gender differences.”
Many treatment modalities can reduce the symptoms and improve quality of life. Patients need to know that the disease will not be cured completely but, progression can be slowed down with medications.
While stressing on all the stakeholders for joints efforts, Prof Dr. M Wasay, added that, early diagnosis can slow the progression of symptoms. Spreading awareness regarding this condition should be the focus of our community.
Talking about the causes of PD he said, “The cause of PD is still unknown. Researchers think that both genes and environment play a role. The disorder is due to a loss of nerve cells in an area deep within the brain called the substantia nigra. This area produces the chemical dopamine. Dopamine helps send signals within the brain. Without the right amount of dopamine, movement can be impaired.”
During this awareness session, Dr. Nadir Ali shed light on psychosocial impact of PD and mentioned that, “Parkinson’s disease is associated with many psychiatric problems such as anxiety, sleep disturbance, psychotic symptoms, but depression is the most common comorbid condition in PD, that can affect over 30% of Parkinson patients.”
Strong emphasis was laid upon spreading awareness regarding Parkinson’s Disease, in order to fight this crucial illness and also to show solidarity with the suffering patients.