Blood Test Would Detect Parkinsons In Early Stages
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.
Blood Tests And Spinal Fluid Tests
A blood test or spinal fluid test cant be used to diagnose Parkinsons. But they can be used to search for certain proteins that indicate you may have another neurodegenerative condition with similar symptoms.
The presence of elevated levels of a nerve protein called neurofilament light chain protein may indicate that you have another movement disorder, such as:
- multiple system atrophy
What Lifestyle Changes Can I Make To Ease Parkinsons Symptoms
Exercise: Exercise helps improve muscle strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, and tremor. It is also strongly believed to improve memory, thinking and reduce the risk of falls and decrease anxiety and depression. One study in persons with Parkinsons disease showed that 2.5 hours of exercise per week resulted in improved ability to move and a slower decline in quality of life compared to those who didnt exercise or didnt start until later in the course of their disease. Some exercises to consider include strengthening or resistance training, stretching exercises or aerobics . All types of exercise are helpful.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet: This is not only good for your general health but can ease some of the non-movement related symptoms of Parkinsons, such as constipation. Eating foods high in fiber in particular can relieve constipation. The Mediterranean diet is one example of a healthy diet.
Preventing falls and maintaining balance: Falls are a frequent complication of Parkinsons. While you can do many things to reduce your risk of falling, the two most important are: 1) to work with your doctor to ensure that your treatments whether medicines or deep brain stimulation are optimal and 2) to consult with a physical therapist who can assess your walking and balance. The physical therapist is the expert when it comes to recommending assistive devices or exercise to improve safety and preventing falls.
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Can Parkinson’s Disease Be Cured
No, Parkinson’s disease is not curable. However, it is treatable, and many treatments are highly effective. It might also be possible to delay the progress and more severe symptoms of the disease.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Parkinson’s disease is a very common condition, and it is more likely to happen to people as they get older. While Parkinson’s isn’t curable, there are many different ways to treat this condition. They include several different classes of medications, surgery to implant brain-stimulation devices and more. Thanks to advances in treatment and care, many can live for years or even decades with this condition and can adapt to or receive treatment for the effects and symptoms.
What Tests Will Be Done To Diagnose This Condition
When healthcare providers suspect Parkinsons disease or need to rule out other conditions, various imaging and diagnostic tests are possible. These include:
New lab tests are possible
Researchers have found possible ways to test for possible indicators or Parkinsons disease. Both of these new tests involve the alpha-synuclein protein but test for it in new, unusual ways. While these tests cant tell you what conditions you have because of misfolded alpha-synuclein proteins, that information can still help your provider make a diagnosis.
The two tests use the following methods.
- Spinal tap. One of these tests looks for misfolded alpha-synuclein proteins in cerebrospinal fluid, which is the fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord. This test involves a spinal tap , where a healthcare provider inserts a needle into your spinal canal to collect some cerebrospinal fluid for testing.
- Skin biopsy. Another possible test involves a biopsy of surface nerve tissue. A biopsy includes collecting a small sample of your skin, including the nerves in the skin. The samples come from a spot on your back and two spots on your leg. Analyzing the samples can help determine if your alpha-synuclein has a certain kind of malfunction that could increase the risk of developing Parkinsons disease.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
Its a good idea to ask questions as you and your doctor discuss a treatment. Asking questions can help you make sure you understand your condition and the benefits of treatment. Here are some sample questions to ask your doctor:
- Is it possible something other than Parkinsons is causing my symptoms?
- Do I need additional tests?
- How will my condition progress?
- What can I expect as my condition progresses?
- How will Parkinsons affect my other medical conditions?
- What treatments are available?
- Which treatments are best for me?
- How will treatments help my current symptoms?
- Will treatment slow down the progression of Parkinsons?
- What side effects do your recommended treatments have?
- What happens if these treatments dont help?
- Can you recommend any resources or educational material for me?
How Can I Try To Get An Early Diagnosis
By the time Parkinsons causes noticeable motor symptoms, usually about 50 percent of the cells that produce dopamine in your substantia nigra have already died off. Non-motor symptoms, such as constipation, loss of smell, or restless sleep, often appear before motor symptoms.
Theres still debate among medical professionals on how long non-motor symptoms may appear before an individual has noticeable changes in their movement. Its thought that they could appear years to decades beforehand.
But a formal Parkinsons diagnosis requires the symptom slowness of movement. In the time before this symptom appears, your doctor cant make a Parkinsons diagnosis, but they may alert you that youre at a high risk of developing Parkinsons in the future if these or other symptoms appear at any point.
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Testing For Parkinsons Disease
There is no lab or imaging test that is recommended or definitive for Parkinsons disease. However, in 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an imaging scan called the DaTscan. This technique allows doctors to see detailed pictures of the brains dopamine system.
A DaTscan involves an injection of a small amount of a radioactive drug and a machine called a single-photon emission computed tomography scanner, similar to an MRI.
The drug binds to dopamine transmitters in the brain, showing where in the brain dopaminergic neurons are.
The results of a DaTscan cant show that you have Parkinsons, but they can help your doctor confirm a diagnosis or rule out a Parkinsons mimic.
From Evidence To Recommendation
The pathological studies emphasise the need for particular care in making a clinical diagnosis of . There is limited evidence to suggest that the UK Brain Bank Criteria have adequate sensitivity and specificity in comparison with post-mortem findings. The accuracy of diagnosis using the Brain Bank criteria increases as the condition progresses.
The availability of brain tissue has fostered much valuable research in recent years and should be encouraged in the future. Diagnostic information derived from post-mortem examination can also be of value to the families of individual patients.
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What Doctors Look For When Diagnosing Parkinsons
Certain physical signs and symptoms noticed by the patient or his or her loved ones are usually what prompt a person to see the doctor. These are the symptoms most often noticed by patients or their families:
Shaking or tremor: Called resting tremor, a trembling of a hand or foot that happens when the patient is at rest and typically stops when he or she is active or moving
Bradykinesia: Slowness of movement in the limbs, face, walking or overall body
Rigidity: Stiffness in the arms, legs or trunk
Posture instability: Trouble with balance and possible falls
Once the patient is at the doctors office, the physician:
Takes a medical history and does a physical examination.
Asks about current and past medications. Some medications may cause symptoms that mimic Parkinsons disease.
Performs a neurological examination, testing agility, muscle tone, gait and balance.
How Soon After Treatment Will I Feel Better And How Long Will It Take To Recover
The time it takes to recover and see the effects of Parkinson’s disease treatments depends strongly on the type of treatments, the severity of the condition and other factors. Your healthcare provider is the best person to offer more information about what you can expect from treatment. The information they give you can consider any unique factors that might affect what you experience.
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How Do We Diagnose Pd
We look for certain cardinal or core features on the examination, plus a supportive history. For example, if a patient has recently been taking medications that can make someone look like they have PD, then the doctor would say, You look like you may have PD, but this medication youve been taking may be the cause, so Im not sure if you really have PD, or if the problems are entirely due to the medications. Parkinsons Disease is slow in onset, so if the patient said that she woke up one morning with tremors and a shuffling walk, but had been playing competitive tennis the evening before, wed think that she more likely had a brain infection or had taken a medication with bad side effects. The history generally is of slowly progressive changes, developing over months, of intermittent tremors, usually in the hands or jaw, slowing down in general, difficulty getting out of a car seat or low, soft sofa, softening of the voice, smallness and slowing of handwriting, change in posture and facial expression. Very often something is only noticed on a particular day, but friends and family will generally report that although they didnt notice particular changes, now that they know what to look for, the changes began months or even years before.
On examination we look for: tremor at rest, rigidity, slowness and loss of spontaneous movement, stooped posture and a characteristic way of walking.
How Is It Diagnosed
Diagnosing Parkinson’s disease is mostly a clinical process, meaning it relies heavily on a healthcare provider examining your symptoms, asking you questions and reviewing your medical history. Some diagnostic and lab tests are possible, but these are usually needed to rule out other conditions or certain causes. However, most lab tests aren’t necessary unless you don’t respond to treatment for Parkinson’s disease, which can indicate you have another condition.
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Measuring A Particular Blood Protein Might Help Doctors Easily Distinguish Parkinsons Disease From Some Similar Disorders A New Study Suggests
WEDNESDAY, Feb. 8, 2017 Measuring a particular blood protein might help doctors easily distinguish Parkinsons disease from some similar disorders, a new study suggests.
The potential blood test is not ready for prime time, Parkinsons disease experts said. But, it marks progress in the quest for an objective way to diagnose Parkinsons and similar conditions known as atypical parkinsonian disorders, they noted.
Parkinsons disease is a movement disorder that affects nearly 1 million people in the United States alone, according to the Parkinsons Disease Foundation.
The root cause is unclear, but as the disease progresses, the brain loses cells that produce dopaminea chemical that regulates movement. As a result, people suffer symptoms such as tremors, stiff limbs, and balance and coordination problems that gradually worsen over time.
Right now, there is no blood test, brain scan or other objective measure that can definitively diagnose Parkinsons, said James Beck, vice president of scientific affairs for the Parkinsons Disease Foundation.
In general, Parkinsons disease is diagnosed with a clinical exam, Beck explained.
The best person to make that call is a neurologist with expertise in movement disorders, according to Beck.
But, he said, even highly trained doctors initially get it wrong about 10 percent of the time.
There is no cure for Parkinsons or APDs, or any way to halt their progression.
How Is Parkinson’s Disease Managed
Your doctors will tailor your treatment based on your individual circumstances. You will manage your condition best if you have the support of a team, which may include a general practitioner, neurologist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, psychologist, specialist nurse and dietitian.
While there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, symptoms can be treated with a combination of the following.
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How Is Parkinson’s Diagnosed
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.
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.
How Is Parkinsons Disease Tested And Diagnosed
At Banner Health, our neurologists have years of experience in testing and diagnosing Parkinson’s disease. Our team of compassionate experts knows that each patient is different, so we work with you to quickly find the right diagnosis to begin building your treatment plan.
Parkinsons is not simple to diagnose. No test exists to diagnose Parkinsons disease. Doctors test and diagnose Parkinsons based on your medical history, symptoms and neurological and physical exams.
Many times a primary care provider is the first to suspect a Parkinsons diagnosis. If youre experiencing symptoms such as tremors, shaking, slow movement, stiffness and/or trouble with balance, talk to your doctor or seek the opinion of a neurologist. Banner Health neurologists are movement disorder specialists, who have experience and specific training to assess and treat Parkinsons.
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Testing For Parkinson’s Disease
The exam for Parkinson’s disease is based on the review of your medical history, but diagnostic imaging may be used to rule out other diseases that are easily mistaken for Parkinson’s disease.
CT and MRI scans can be used to rule out the possibility of other brain diseases besides Parkinson’s disease .Your doctor might also perform a test called an MIBG myocardial scintigraphy, which is used to examine the condition of sympathetic nerves in the heart. For this, you take a test agent containing a substance called metaiodobenzylguanidine, which is similar to norepinephrine . The degree to which this agent collects in the heart is then assessed using images. It is known that this agent does not collect in the heart in Parkinson’s disease patients, and this fact is used as a reference in making a diagnosis.
In January 2014, a testing procedure called dopamine transporter became available in Japan. DAT is a protein that encourages the recycling of the dopamine that is used to send signals in the brain. This test discriminates between conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies by visualizing the workings of DAT.
How Can Mris Be Used To Detect Early Onset Parkinsons
MRIs use magnets to create detailed images of the inside of the body. Brain MRIs can help doctors spot tumors, brain bleeding, and other brain health conditions. Recently, medical researchers have discovered that MRIs can also spot small changes in the brain that can indicate Parkinsons disease.
A 2019 study on MRIs and Parkinsons found that people with Parkinsons often have visibly damaged brain neurons. The damage to neurons is present before any brain atrophy begins, and before symptoms are present.
Using this information, doctors can prescribe appropriate treatments, such as Deep Brain Stimulation therapy, that can slow down decline and improve the quality of life for people with Parkinsons.
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What Is Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinsons disease occurs when brain cells that make dopamine, a chemical that coordinates movement, stop working or die. Because PD can cause tremor, slowness, stiffness, and walking and balance problems, it is called a movement disorder. But constipation, depression, memory problems and other non-movement symptoms also can be part of Parkinsons. PD is a lifelong and progressive disease, which means that symptoms slowly worsen over time.
The experience of living with Parkinson’s over the course of a lifetime is unique to each person. As symptoms and progression vary from person to person, neither you nor your doctor can predict which symptoms you will get, when you will get them or how severe they will be. Even though broad paths of similarity are observed among individuals with PD as the disease progresses, there is no guarantee you will experience what you see in others.
Estimates suggest that Parkinsons affects nearly 1 million people in the United States and more than 6 million people worldwide.
For an in-depth guide to navigating Parkinsons disease and living well as the disease progresses, check out our Parkinsons 360 toolkit.
What Is Parkinson’s Disease?
Dr. Rachel Dolhun, a movement disorder specialist and vice president of medical communications at The Michael J. Fox Foundation, breaks down the basics of Parkinson’s.