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Off Period Parkinson’s Disease

What Causes On/off Episodes In Parkinsons Disease

Dr Stewart Factor Discusses Management of OFF Periods, Treatment Innovations in Parkinson Disease

On/off episodes, also known as off time, typically happen more often as Parkinsons disease progresses, and levodopa becomes less effective.

Carbidopa/levodopa is considered the gold standard in Parkinsons disease treatment, meaning its the most effective for treating motor symptoms, such as tremor, rigidity, and bradykinesia . Levodopa works by crossing the blood-brain barrier and converting into dopamine, low levels of which are believed to be the cause of Parkinsons symptoms. Adding carbidopa to levodopa helps prevent levodopa from breaking down before it crosses into the brain, which helps reduce side effects like nausea and vomiting.

Some people who have Parkinsons start taking levodopa at around three doses per day. If you start experiencing off episodes, your doctor may increase your dose to four or more times per day.

Off time is common: According to patient surveys, around half of patients who take levodopa report experiencing wearing off periods. Of those patients, 25% experience it 3 to 6 hours per day, and 52% have symptoms for 1 to 3 hours a day.

Statistics About Off Periods

Currently, it is estimated that approximately 350,000 people with Parkinsons in the United States experience OFF periods.11-13 They can occur throughout the day, can be unexpected, and may appear more often over time.3,7,14

As the disease progresses, people with Parkinsons will experience symptom return.7,8

In a study of 617 Parkinson’s patients, ~50% of a subset with disease duration of 5 years experienced OFF symptoms7

Another study following people with Parkinson’s for 15 years after diagnosis found that 50 out of 52 experienced OFF periods8

Time spent in OFF periods can really add up. In a 2014 survey of more than 3,000 people with Parkinson’s conducted by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, two-thirds of respondents reported having more than two hours of OFF time per day. Twenty-two percent of those surveyed were OFF 2-3 hours a day, 20% were OFF 3-4 hours a day, and 22% were OFF more than 4 hours a day. That translates to15:

The unpredictability and frequency of OFF periods negatively impact the lives of patients with Parkinsons, affecting their quality of life.16

~70% of approximately 3,000 people with Parkinsons who participated in a 2014 Michael J. Fox Foundation survey reported OFF periods at least twice a day.15

How The Parkinson’s On

Ideally, when you take doses of a medication like levodopa on a regular schedule, you shouldn’t notice much of a difference in your symptoms between doses. In other words, your symptoms should remain relatively constant over time, regardless of when you last took your medication.

However, when the on-off phenomenon starts in Parkinson’s disease, you’ll feel better as a new dose of your medication starts to take effect, and worse before you’re due for another dose. Eventually, the duration of on states becomes shorter and the wearing off happens sooner .

Some experts have described the “on” period as akin to switching on a light, and the “off” period as the lights going off.

In an “on” state, the person with Parkinson’s disease may feel energetic and able to move around more easily. However, in an “off” state, the person may become very stiff, slow, and may even be unable to move at all for a few minutes. A person may also have difficulty speaking, and you may notice him or her slurring their words. As you can imagine, the “off” state can be quite uncomfortable.

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Postsynaptic Mechanisms In Wearing

To evaluate the relevance of postsynaptic mechanisms, it is necessary to break down the wearing-off into its LDR and SDR components. Strong support for the involvement of postsynaptic mechanisms comes from the slow decay of the LDR on withdrawing dopamine agonist treatment in patients with de novo PD. For example, the time taken for motor symptoms to deteriorate back to baseline after stopping treatment with ropinirole was 6.2 ± 1.7 days and 9.0 ± 1.9 days with the short-acting agonist lisuride . Interestingly, similar studies in de novo PD patients with the very long-acting dopamine agonist cabergoline showed a shorter LDR compared to short-acting lisuride. From these results, it can be concluded that dopamine agonists have LDR effects that are similar to levodopa and that postsynaptic effects must contribute. We suggest that these postsynaptic changes include complex alterations in genes and protein at the striatal level mediating receptor and intracellular activity and also functional abnormalities in basal ganglia output pathways .

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Off Periods For Me Are Best Defined As Not Knowingwhat Is Going To Happen

Managing Parkinsons Disease OFF Periods

Israel R., Living with Parkinsons Since 2007

Lynn H., Living with Parkinsons Since 2010

Michael B., Living with Parkinsons Since 2011

Brenda V., Living with Parkinsons Since 2012

Steven D., Living with Parkinsons Since 2005

Gary R., Living with Parkinsons Since 2008

Steven D., Living with Parkinsons Since 2005

Israel R., Living with Parkinsons Since 2007

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New Therapies For The Acute Treatment Of Off Episodes In Parkinsons Disease

Fabrizio StocchiDepartment of Neurology, IRCCS San Raffaele Pisana, Rome, Italy

The symptoms of OFF episodes can be caused by various factors including abnormal lingual control of swallowing and lingual festination. Patients with PD can also have a delayed swallowing reflex, which increases the risk of swallowing during inspiration, causing aspiration. Patients can also have a repetitive and involuntary reflux from the vallecula and piriform sinuses into the oral cavity.51 More importantly, many patients with PD have gastroparesis, which appears as postprandial bloating, early satiety, nausea, and vomiting.52,53 Delays in gastric emptying can cause slow delivery of levodopa to intestinal absorption sites, which, in turn, delays peaks in plasma levels leading to erratic drug responses, slow onset of action or dose failure.53â55 These issues were emphasized by gastroscopic examination of a patient, which found an intact levodopa/carbidopa tablet in the stomach 1.5 hours after it was swallowed.56 Furthermore, daytime gastroscopy has found food from the previous evening remaining in the stomachs of many patients with PD.

These developments in rescue therapies have the potential to substantially improve quality of life and help patients deal with the otherwise untreatable symptoms of OFF episodes, which are a serious burden and involve both motor and non-motor symptoms.

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The Challenge Of On And Off Periods

On and off periods with Parkinsons medications can pose a significantand frustratingchallenge when it comes to managing your symptoms, says Dr. Pan.

On/off periods are a very relevant topic because it actually can cause a lot of disability in Parkinsons, she says. Because when patients are on medications, they can almost feel like normal and do a lot of things, and once medications wear off, they are very disabled and immobilized at times.

To address the issue, your doctor may have you start taking your medication dose more frequentlyfor example, switching from taking a pill every four hours to every three. However, it becomes a logistical challenge of taking medications so often, and there are also risks of excessive dopamine, she says. For example, non-motor symptoms of Parkinsonssuch as psychosisbecome more likely the higher the dose of a dopamine agent you are taking. It becomes a difficult balance of trying to reduce motor symptoms with your medications without taking so much that youre increasing other non-motor symptoms.

Thankfully, scientists have already worked to address this issue by developing new types of medications to help you manage those off-times, says Dr. Hui.

For example, one is a sublingual apomorphine, which is a drug placed under the tongue and can kick you on within 15 minutes. Theres also an inhaler form that works within 15-30 minutes, she says. These different delivery systems can help you maximize on-time quickly.

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Role Of The Ldr In The Development Of Motor Fluctuations

Fig. 1

Mean peak and baseline tapping speeds to the levodopa infusion on day 1 and day 4 and over 4 years of therapy with levodopa . The difference between peak and baseline tapping speeds is the magnitude of the SDR, which progressively increases to the levodopa infusion on day 4. Reproduced from Nutt et al. .

Similar results were reported by Zappia et al. who found that the duration of the SDR did not significantly change within the first year of therapy, but that 24% of patients lost the LDR to levodopa. These studies demonstrate the pivotal roles of the LDR and the magnitude rather than duration of the SDR in the development of motor fluctuations in the early years of levodopa therapy. They further suggest that when a sustained LDR is present, the SDR is usually masked and patients may therefore be classified clinically as stable responders to levodopa therapy even though they are experiencing fluctuations. As the LDR is progressively lost, patients lose the smooth drug effect and the magnitude of the SDR increases . Patients are then clinically observed to become fluctuators because the degree of benefit is now dependent on the magnitude of the SDR. Overall, the available evidence suggests that in the earlier stages of PD, where the difference between the ON and OFF states is less pronounced, any fluctuations in levodopa response are not noticed by the patient and therefore not reported.

Fig. 2

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The Role Of Dopamine In Parkinsons

Dr Stewart Factor on Implications, Treatment of OFF Periods in Parkinson Disease

Before we can really understand the on-off phenomenon of medications, we have to first understand the role that dopamine, a neurotransmitter, plays in the body.

Normally, the brain makes its own dopamine, and it aids in several important functions throughout the body, explains Jennifer S. Hui, M.D., a neurologist with Keck Medicine of University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA. For unknown reasons, we have a loss of that neurotransmitter that leads to Parkinsons disease, she says. That neurotransmitter helps with movement, and without it, movement is slowed down.

Thats why common Parkinsons symptoms include tremors, difficulty walking, and feelings of slowness or heaviness.

The role that dopaminewell, lack thereofplays in Parkinsons is evident in the main treatments for the medication. The gold standard for treating Parkinsons is a drug called carbidopa/levodopa, says Dr. Hui. This drug, and several other medications for Parkinsons , work by increasing dopamine in the brain to help reduce those motor complications.

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Parkinsons Disease Symptoms Everyone Should Know

Parkinsons disease symptoms can include tremor and trouble with movement, along with emotional and cognitive changes.

Parkinsons disease symptoms can vary significantly from person to person. Some people may have range of motor symptoms, like tremor, stiffness, and slow movements. Others may also experience the non-motor symptoms of Parkinsons disease, such as anxiety, cognitive changes, and loss of smell.

It has to do with a chemical messenger known as dopamine, which plays a role in the brains ability to control movement, coordination, and emotional responses. In Parkinsons disease, the brain cells that produce dopamine either stop doing their job or they die out, resulting in both motor and non-motor symptoms. Its not always easy to tell if someone you care about has Parkinsons disease. Lets take a closer look at the symptoms of the disease and signs that someone should make an appointment with their doctor.

Medications To Keep The Light Switch On Longer

There are three main classes of drugs that we use as adjunctive therapy: dopamine agonists, monoamine oxidase type B selective inhibitors, and catechol-O-methyl transferase inhibitors. All of these act in different ways in order to enhance dopamines effect or allow levodopa to linger longer. They can increase on time typically by one to two hours each day, which can improve quality of life for our patients.

Dopamine agonists essentially pretend to be dopamine. A dopamine agonists chemical structure looks so much like dopamines that the nerve cells think theyve received dopamine and act accordingly, controlling symptoms for longer. We have three dopamine agonists on the market today: pramipexole , ropinirole , and rotigotine transdermal patch .

Next, we have what I call the alphabet soup: MAO-B selective inhibitors and COMT inhibitors. MAO and COMT are both enzymes that break down dopamine, whether its dopamine our brain produces or dopamine that comes from levodopa. MAO-B selective inhibitors and COMT inhibitors do as their names suggest: they inhibit, or block, these enzymes from breaking down dopamine. That way, more dopamine is available and it sticks around for a longer period of time, decreasing off periods. MAO-B selective inhibitors include selegiline , rasagiline , and safinamide . COMT inhibitors include entacapone , tolcapone , and opicapone .

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Pathophysiology And Risk Factors For The Development Of Off Episodes In Parkinsons Disease

C Warren OlanowDepartment of Neurology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA

Levodopa has been used as a treatment for PD for 50 years and remains the most effective therapy available. There are, however, limitations with levodopa, including a lack of control of non-dopaminergic features of PD such as falls and dementia, failure to stop disease progression, and the development of motor complications in the majority of patients.27 Risk factors for the development of these complications have been studied in both open-label and long-term prospective studies which indicate that both OFF time and dyskinesia are associated with young age, high doses of levodopa, and disease severity.8,28 Among these, levodopa dose is the one factor that can be controlled by physicians.

Analyses in this study further indicate that female gender and lower weight correlate with the development of motor complications this likely reflects the same dose resulting in higher plasma levels in these individuals.28 Recommendations arising from this work suggest that physicians should use the lowest levodopa dose that provides satisfactory symptom control, should consider alternative medications to minimize levodopa dose, and should pay particular attention to the dose given to young women. It may also be necessary to consider patient weight and prescribe the dose on a mg/kg basis.

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How Does The On

Gastrointestinal dysfunction in Parkinsons disease

In the on state, the patient with Parkinsons disease may be able to move around easily and feel energetic. On the contrary, in the off phase the patient may become very stiff and slow. He may not be able to move at all or may have difficulty in moving for several minutes. The off phase occurs when the effect of the medicine wears out.

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What Should The Patient Experience In The Wearing Off Syndrome

  • Every patients experience with Parkinsons disease is quite different. Thus, the symptoms of wearing off are seen to differ individually.
  • It is seen that some patients experience wearing off symptoms within around 1 or 2 years after starting the levodopa therapy.
  • For others, wearing off symptoms may happen so that the levodopa may continue to work effectively for 5 or more years.

Many patients find that the primary motor symptoms that are the problems with movements return during the wearing-off phase while other non-motor symptoms do not. Although, this may not hold true for every patient.

What Helps On/off Episodes

There are a few different steps you can consider taking to increase your symptom-free hours during the day.

Change the dosage or timing of your carbidopa/levodopa: Taking your medication at different times, or increasing your dose, may help reduce your off time.

Try a different medication: Your doctor may suggest another medication to add to your regimen, or a new carbidopa/levodopa option, to help reduce off episodes. You may also consider newer treatments for off time. For example, an inhaled levodopa powder for off episodes was approved by the FDA in 2018.

Adjust your diet: Because levodopa is a protein building block, it competes for absorption in the brain with other proteins. Its best not to eat a high-protein meal before taking your medication. For example, you may save fish, meat, and cheese for dinner and eat more carbs and vegetables during the day.

Consider a clinical trial: If youre interested, there are also several treatments in development for off time in Parkinsons disease.

Participating in clinical trials helps create the treatments of tomorrow. Start your search for a local Parkinsons disease clinical trial opportunity.

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Can An Off Episode Be Prevented

Eventually, most people with PD develop OFF episodes. Some people develop OFF episodes sooner than others.

Researchers have found evidence that taking high doses of levodopa may increase your risk of OFF episodes. It may cause greater fluctuations in your dopamine levels.

Its important for your doctor to prescribe the lowest dose of levodopa necessary to manage your symptoms. This may help limit fluctuations in dopamine and reduce your risk of OFF episodes.

If you think you might be experiencing OFF episodes, let your doctor know. They may adjust your prescribed dose or formulation of levodopa/carbidopa. They may also prescribe other treatments to manage OFF episodes.

If youre experiencing OFF episodes, your doctor may recommend one or more changes to your treatment plan.

They may:

In some cases, your doctor may recommend deep brain stimulation . In this procedure, a surgeon implants electrodes in the brain and a small internal pulse generator in the chest or abdomen. The internal pulse generator sends electrical signals to the brain to help control symptoms of DB.

Each treatment option carries a different risk of side effects. Ask your doctor about the potential benefits and risks of different treatment approaches.

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Qualitative Analysis And Interpretation Of Figurative Language

DBS surgery for Parkinson’s Disease: Off-period Symptoms – Dr. Paresh Doshi

Each use of figurative language was reviewed, and a list of themes or categorizations common to at least 2 of the figurative language phrases was generated . A neurologist and movement disorders specialist with advanced training in narrative medicine then reviewed each figurative language phrase and classified it into one or more of the theme categories listed. The classifications were then reviewed by authors B.E., S.M., and L.M.C., and final categorizations were chosen after discussion. In the process, the original list of themes was refined to consolidate categories.

A goal of this analysis was to determine how a movement disorders specialist who encounters each of the figurative language phrases would interpret them. Specifically, what symptom or symptoms the movement disorders specialist believed the patient was referring to with the use of the figurative language.

List of Symptoms That the Reviewing Neurologists Used to Specify Which Symptom They Thought Each Figurative Language Phrase Represented

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