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How Do They Test You For Parkinson’s Disease

Blood Test Would Detect Parkinsons In Early Stages

How does a physician arrive at a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis?

A group of researchers developed a blood test that would allow neurologists detect Parkinsons disease and track the illness as it progresses.

If successful, we expect our findings will translate into a valuable diagnostic tool for Parkinsons disease, said study co-author Judith Potashkin, professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology at Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.

According to the Parkinsons Disease Foundation, it is estimated that 60,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with Parkinsons disease each year. Data from 2013, by the University Center for Health Sciences at the University of Guadalajara, reported more than 500,000 cases of this neurodegenerative condition in Mexico. The same year, an economic model of Parkinsons disease forecasted that cases in the worlds population will double by 2040.

Now days, this disease is still incurable. It can cause tremors and severely hamper movement. Although medications allow controlling the condition, it gets worse over the years and medications do not stop its progression.

The traditional method to diagnose Parkinsons is by analyzing symptoms. Currently, brain scans are available, allowing the analysis of imaging studies to detect the disease however, the information obtained from these devices may still be somewhat imprecise, Potashkin said.

The study was published in the Feb. 3 online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

How Parkinson’s Disease Is Diagnosed

Claudia Chaves, MD, is board-certified in cerebrovascular disease and neurology with a subspecialty certification in vascular neurology.

There’s no “gold standard” test that will diagnose Parkinson’s disease . Instead, a physician relies on their own clinical observations and judgment, along with a patient’s description of possible signs and symptoms, to make the diagnosis. That, of course, makes a physical examination very important in this process. Much of your doctor’s exam will be aimed at assessing whether you have the so-called cardinal signs of Parkinson’s: resting tremor, rigidity , bradykinesia and postural instability .

Early Signs Of Parkinson’s

Early physical signs include the common motor symptoms: tremor, muscle rigidity and slowness. They may also include the following:

  • Symptoms starting on one side of the body
  • Change in facial expression
  • Failure to swing one arm when walking
  • Stooped posture
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Depression or anxiety

Some of these symptoms are quite common and by no means exclusive to Parkinsons, so if you have some of them, it does not mean you have Parkinsons.

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How To Test For Parkinson’s Disease

This article was medically reviewed by Erik Kramer, DO, MPH. Dr. Erik Kramer is a Primary Care Physician at the University of Colorado, specializing in internal medicine, diabetes, and weight management. He received his Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine from the Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2012. Dr. Kramer is a Diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine and is board certified.There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 35,437 times.

Parkinsons Disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder affecting both motor and non-motor abilities. It afflicts 1% of those over 60 years of age.XResearch sourceJOHN D. GAZEWOOD, MD, MSPH,D. ROXANNE RICHARDS, MD,KARL CLEBAK, MD, Parkinsons An Update, The American Family Physician, 2013 Feb 15 87:267-273 It is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system. PD is caused by a lack of dopamine, a chemical that helps the parts of your brain responsible for motor function communicate with each other. This condition often causes tremors, muscle stiffness, slowness, and poor balance. If you suspect that you, or someone you love, has Parkinsons, it is important to know how you can diagnose this condition. Begin by trying to identify symptoms of the disease at home, and then see your doctor for an appropriate medical diagnosis.

If Its Not Curable Then How Can I Be Treated

How Do They Diagnose Parkinson

Parkinsons disease can be treated either by medication or through surgical approach.

Medication is the most common way of dealing with Parkinsons disease symptoms. There have been developed drugs that not only help to treat the symptoms but also improve the overall quality of life. Commonly known classes of drugs used for Parkinsons disease are L-Dopa, MAO-B inhibitors, Dopamine Agonists, and COMT Inhibitors. These drugs are designed to restore dopamine levels in the brain.

Surgical approach or the deep brain stimulation is a newly introduced treatment approach for treating Parkinsons symptoms. You can be a candidate for deep brain stimulation if youre at the advanced stage of your disease and your symptoms are not well controlled with medication. In this approach, parts of your brain responsible for movement functions are reawakened by using low electric current. This requires a surgery during which a small chip containing electrodes is installed into the brain.

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How Is Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosed

Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and your past health and will do a neurological exam. This exam includes questions and tests that show how well your nerves are working. For example, your doctor will watch how you move. He or she will check your muscle strength and reflexes and will check your vision.

Your doctor also may check your sense of smell and ask you questions about your mood.

In some cases, your doctor will have you try a medicine for Parkinson’s disease. If that medicine helps your symptoms, it may help the doctor find out if you have the disease.

Tests

There are no lab or blood tests that can help your doctor know whether you have Parkinson’s. But you may have tests to help your doctor rule out other diseases that could be causing your symptoms. For example:

  • An MRI or CT scan is used to look for signs of a stroke or brain tumor.
  • Blood tests check for abnormal thyroid hormone levels or liver damage.

Another type of imaging test, called PET, sometimes may detect low levels of dopamine in the brain. These low levels are a key feature of Parkinson’s. But PET scanning isn’t commonly used to evaluate Parkinson’s. That’s because it’s very expensive, not available in many hospitals, and only used experimentally.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Parkinsons

Parkinsons disease is a progressive condition, and symptoms tend to get worse over time. The rate of progression varies between people.

At first, symptoms tend to be mild enough that they likely wont interfere with your daily life. But people who regularly spend time with you may notice changes in your gait, posture, or facial expressions.

Parkinsons symptoms usually start on

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What Are Lewy Bodies

Lewy bodies are abnormal protein deposits found in the brain. Researchers do not know exactly why Lewy bodies form or what role they may play in Parkinson’s disease, but they seem to be linked to certain types of dementia associated with both PD and Alzheimer’s disease. Lewy body dementia is a degenerative disease and symptoms range from parkinsonian symptoms such as bradykinesia, rigidity, tremor, and shuffling walk, to symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease . Symptoms may fluctuate, even from day to day. In later stages patients may develop hallucinations.

Is Parkinsons Disease Inherited

Understanding Parkinsons Disease

Scientists have discovered gene mutations that are associated with Parkinsons disease.

There is some belief that some cases of early-onset Parkinsons disease disease starting before age 50 may be inherited. Scientists identified a gene mutation in people with Parkinsons disease whose brains contain Lewy bodies, which are clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein. Scientists are trying to understand the function of this protein and its relationship to genetic mutations that are sometimes seen in Parkinsons disease and in people with a type of dementia called Lewy body dementia.

Several other gene mutations have been found to play a role in Parkinsons disease. Mutations in these genes cause abnormal cell functioning, which affects the nerve cells ability to release dopamine and causes nerve cell death. Researchers are still trying to discover what causes these genes to mutate in order to understand how gene mutations influence the development of Parkinsons disease.

Scientists think that about 10% to 15% of persons with Parkinsons disease may have a genetic mutation that predisposes them to development of the disease. There are also environmental factors involved that are not fully understood.

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What Is Parkinsons Disease

Parkinsons disease is a progressive brain disorder that affects mobility and mental ability. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinsons, you may be wondering about life expectancy.

According to some research, on average, people with Parkinsons can expect to live almost as long as those who dont have the condition.

Besides Medication What Other Approaches Should I Use To Deal With This Disease

Medication can certainly reduce the complications of Parkinsons disease, but its not the only way to deal with it. There are other approaches that you may need to consider in order to feel and live much better with this progressive disease. Here are some of them:

  • Educate yourself about the disease

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Assessing Level Of Rigidity

Doctors also look for rigidity by moving the joints in your elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles to see if there’s resistance. The resistance may be smooth or may appear as slight hesitations in movements, known as cogwheeling. This is sometimes made more obvious by the patient actively moving the opposite limb.

Parkinsons Disease: 10 Of Your Questions Answered

What does Parkinsons disease mean for me? How long will I ...

I am sure some of you who have loved one suffering from Parkinsons disease have many questions about Parkinsons disease.

Even if you dont have anyone in your family, you would still be curious to know what this disease is all about. After all, this is a growing health problem around the world.

So here are the answers to some of the key questions that you might have in your mind about this disease.

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What Is The Current Status Of The Disease

Parkinsons disease is a growing health concern throughout the world. It is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzhiemers. There are approximately 10 million people around the world who are suffering from Parkinsons disease. In the USA alone, there are more than 60,000 cases reported each year. The disease mostly appears over the age 60, and it tends to affect more men than women.

What Causes Parkinsons Disease

Parkinsons disease occurs when nerve cells in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra become impaired or die. These cells normally produce dopamine, a chemical that helps the cells of the brain communicate . When these nerve cells become impaired or die, they produce less dopamine. Dopamine is especially important for the operation of another area of the brain called the basal ganglia. This area of the brain is responsible for organizing the brains commands for body movement. The loss of dopamine causes the movement symptoms seen in people with Parkinsons disease.

People with Parkinsons disease also lose another neurotransmitter called norepinephrine. This chemical is needed for proper functioning of the sympathetic nervous system. This system controls some of the bodys autonomic functions such as digestion, heart rate, blood pressure and breathing. Loss of norepinephrine causes some of the non-movement-related symptoms of Parkinsons disease.

Scientists arent sure what causes the neurons that produce these neurotransmitter chemicals to die.

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How Is Parkinson’s Diagnosed

Current evidence suggests that Parkinsons tends to develop gradually. It may be many months, even years, before the symptoms become obvious enough for someone to go to the doctor.

This information looks at what parkinsonism is, how Parkinsons and other similar conditions may be diagnosed, and explains some of the tests that may be involved in the process.

Parkinsonism is a term used to describe symptoms or signs that are found in Parkinsons, but which can also be found in other conditions that cause slowness of movement, stiffness and tremor.

Most people with a form of parkinsonism have idiopathic Parkinsons disease, also known as Parkinsons. Idiopathic means the cause is unknown.

Other less common forms of parkinsonism include multiple system atrophy , progressive supranuclear palsy , drug-induced parkinsonism and vascular Parkinsons.

If youre concerned about symptoms youve been experiencing, you should visit your GP. If your GP suspects you have Parkinsons, clinical guidelines recommend they should refer you quickly to a specialist with experience in diagnosing the condition .

Its not always easy to diagnose the condition. So its important that you see a Parkinsons specialist to get an accurate diagnosis and to consider the best treatment options.

Diagnosing Parkinsons can take some time as there are other conditions, such as essential tremor , with similar symptoms. There is also currently no definitive test for diagnosing Parkinsons.

What Are The Treatments

Approach to the Exam for Parkinson’s Disease

Currently there is no cure for Parkinsons disease.

Symptoms can be mild in the early stages of the condition and people might not need immediate treatment. Your doctor and specialist will monitor your situation.

There are several different types of drugs used to treat Parkinsons disease. Drug treatments are tailored to each individuals needs and are likely to involve a combination of different drugs. Your medication should be reviewed regularly. It is likely that, over time, changes will be made to the types of drugs you take and the doses you take each day.

The main types of drug treatment for Parkinsons disease are:

  • drugs which replace dopamine
  • drugs which mimic the role of dopamine
  • drugs which inhibit the activity of acetylcholine
  • drugs which prevent the body breaking down dopamine
  • other drugs such as anti-sickness medication

Everybody is affected differently by medication. The possible side effects of Parkinsons disease drugs include nausea , vomiting , tiredness and dizziness. Some people might experience confusion, nightmares and hallucinations. For some people, dopamine agonists have been linked to compulsive behaviour such as addictive gambling or hypersexuality .

The effectiveness of the main drug treatment levodopa can wear off over time and its long-term use can cause some people to develop involuntary twisting or writhing movements of the arms, legs or face . To reduce the risk, doctors might delay the use of levodopa for younger people.

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How A Diagnosis Is Made

The bedside examination by a neurologist remains the first and most important diagnostic tool for Parkinsons disease . Researchers are working to develop a standard biological marker such as a blood test or an imaging scan that is sensitive and specific for Parkinsons disease.

A neurologist will make the diagnosis based on:

  • A detailed history of symptoms, medical problems, current and past medications. Certain medical conditions, as well as some medications, can cause symptoms similar to Parkinsons.
  • A detailed neurological examination during which a neurologist will ask you to perform tasks to assess the agility of arms and legs, muscle tone, gait and balance, to see if:
  • Expression and speech are animated.
  • Tremor can be observed in your extremities at rest or in action.
  • There is stiffness in extremities or neck.
  • You can maintain your balance and examine your posture.
  • You may notice that a neurologist records your exam into a table, called Unified Parkinsons Disease Rating Scale . This is a universal scale used by neurologists and movement disorder specialists to comprehensively assess and document the exam of a person with PD at a baseline, judge the effect of medication and track the progression of disease during future visits.
  • Most commonly, people with PD respond well to dopaminergic medications. Lack of response to medications may prompt the doctor to seek an alternative diagnosis such as atypical parkinsonism and order further testing such as an MRI of the brain.
  • What Are The Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease

    Symptoms of Parkinsons disease and the rate of decline vary widely from person to person. The most common symptoms include:

    Other symptoms include:

    • Speech/vocal changes: Speech may be quick, become slurred or be soft in tone. You may hesitate before speaking. The pitch of your voice may become unchanged .
    • Handwriting changes: You handwriting may become smaller and more difficult to read.
    • Depression and anxiety.
    • Sleeping disturbances including disrupted sleep, acting out your dreams, and restless leg syndrome.
    • Pain, lack of interest , fatigue, change in weight, vision changes.
    • Low blood pressure.

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    Obtaining A Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosis

    During the exam, the neurologist will look for cardinal symptoms of the disease. Facial expressions and features will be assessed. The doctor will look for signs of tremor while the patient is at rest. The doctor may watch how easily the patient stands up from sitting in a chair. The doctor may also stand behind the patient and gently pull back on the patients shoulders and look for how easily the patient can regain balance. Good responsiveness to levodopa also helps support the diagnosis of PD. However, taking levodopa may exclude patients from clinical studies that need to recruit recently diagnosed patients who have not yet had treatment . Participation in a clinical trial should be discussed with the doctor.

    PD can be challenging to accurately diagnose, particularly in early stages of the disease, which is why a neurologist trained in movement disorders is critical. Approximately 5-10% of patients with PD are misdiagnosed, as many of the symptoms of PD are similar to other diseases. If the patient thinks that he or she has been misdiagnosed, a second opinion may help.1,2

    Can I Be Cured If I Get Parkinsons Disease

    How to Test for Parkinson

    Unfortunately, Parkinsons disease is not curable. There has not been developed a method that completely remove or reverse the disease condition. However, the disease symptoms can be managed with treatment. The medication available today has not only increased the quality of life but also enormously prolonged the life expectancy of patients.

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