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What is the Correlation Between Parkinson's and Age?

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  • Written By: Nick Doniger
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2018
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Parkinson's disease is a very common motor system disorder which affects dopamine production in the brain. Symptoms associated with Parkinson's and age, such as tremors and body imbalance, tend to display a positive correlation. As victims of the disease get older, symptoms become more pronounced. Most people with Parkinson's disease are middle aged or elderly, though there have been cases in which people under the age of 50 contract it as well. Some drugs are available which may help the brain produce more dopamine.

The typical visual connection between Parkinson's and age is an increase in the number of symptoms and the severity of symptoms over time. Initially, tremors will begin in one arm, and spread to other limbs as the diseases advances over time. Soon tremors in the face and jaw are also noted, as well as general body stiffness, coordination difficulty, and slow movement while walking.

After a while, it becomes very difficult for Parkinson's patients to keep a stable posture. This new symptom tends to arise after the disease progresses at least eight years. Patients will experience swaying motions or an unusual, awkward gait at this stage. Other new symptoms may arise and sometimes mimic other diseases, which makes anxiety common among those who suffer from Parkinson's. Another risk associated with progressing Parkinson's and age is the development of osteoporosis, which can be potentially hazardous when combined with severe difficulty in walking and standing.

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A commonly noted connection between Parkinson's and age is a late onset factor. Most patients develop the disorder around 60 years of age. Parkinson's disease is considered one of the most common movement disorders among the late middle aged to elderly, affecting approximately one percent of all people in the U.S. above 60 years of age.

In recent years, there has been a substantial number of Parkinson's disease diagnoses among patients under the age of 50. There may even be a chance that many cases go undiagnosed for a long period of time due to milder symptoms among younger patients. Those who contract Parkinson's disease in their 30s and 40s initially tend to have less obvious trembling symptoms, but instead have difficulty walking and maintaining a normal posture when standing.

Parkinson's disease causes the degeneration of cells in the substantia nigra, a part of the brain which plays an important role in the release of dopamine. Dopamine levels drastically reduce in the body as a result of Parkinson's and age. Some drugs are available to help the body produce higher levels of the chemical. Those who develop Parkinson's disease at a young age may particularly benefit from these medications, as such drugs could potentially help the brain to maintain the dopamine producing cells which still exist in the patient.

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