Parkinson's Disease

(PD; Paralysis Agitans; Shaking Palsy)

Definition

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive movement disorder. PD is characterized by:
  • Slowing down of movements (bradykinesia)
  • Tremor at rest
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Loss of reflexes that maintain posture and equilibrium
Part of the Brain Affected by PD—Yellow Section
Substansia Nigra
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

PD is caused by a loss of certain nerve cells in the brain. The loss of these cells causes a decrease in the amount of a brain chemical called dopamine. Low dopamine levels cause PD symptoms.The brain cells may be lost because of genetic defects, the environment, or some combination of the two. A small amount of people with PD have an early-onset form. This type is caused by an inherited gene defect.

Risk Factors

PD is more common in men and in people aged 50 years and older. Other factors that increase your chance of PD include:

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