Dear Doctor I am worried that I am at risk of Parkinson's disease as it runs in my family. Is there anything I can to do prevent it?
There is a history of Parkinson's disease in my family. Is there any way to prevent this illness? I'm in my forties and in good health. What are the signs of Parkinson's?
Having one or more close relatives with Parkinson's does increase the chances that you may develop it, but your risk is still lower than 5pc.
Family history is only one risk factor for Parkinson's disease, it usually begins in later life and increases with age. Men are more likely to develop it than women. Ongoing exposure to herbicides and pesticides also puts you at an increased risk of Parkinson's.
It can be difficult to diagnose, especially in the early stages. For instance, tremor is often an early sign of Parkinson's, but the most common type -- "essential tremor" -- isn't caused by Parkinson's.
The other main symptoms are slowing or freezing of movement (bradykinesia) and muscle rigidity. The symptoms vary from person to person and can go unnoticed for years. A correct diagnosis in the early stages is the key to starting the right treatment that can delay or manage symptoms for years.
Are there any new treatments in the pipeline for Parkinson's? I have heard that there is a type of brain surgery available?
Deep brain stimulation is the most common surgical procedure to treat Parkinson's disease. This involves implanting an electrode in the part of the brain that controls movement. The amount of stimulation delivered by the electrode is controlled by a pacemaker-like device placed under the skin in your upper chest. A wire that travels under your skin connects the device (pulse generator) to the electrode.
This type of procedure may not be suitable for everyone and is most often used for people who have advanced Parkinson's. It helps reduce involuntary movements.
Does the medication used to treat Parkinson's have any side-effects?
Yes, they may cause a number of complications, including involuntary twitching or jerking of the legs or arms, hallucinations, sleepiness and a drop in blood pressure when standing up. At first the response to treatment can be dramatic but, over time, can become less consistent. Medication helps manage problems with walking, movement or tremor by increasing the brain's supply of dopamine.
Are there any supplements or vitamins that prevent Parkinson's disease?
Co-enzyme Q10 is an important vitamin-like antioxidant that helps provide energy to cells.
People with certain diseases, such as Parkinson's disease, seem to have lower levels of C0Q10. It may help slow the progression of the disease in some people with Parkinson's. But it's not known if taking C0Q10 will prevent you from developing this disease.