Parkinson's disease, how and when does it manifest?

Around 10 million people in the world suffer from Parkinson's, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), and it is estimated that its prevalence will double, affecting around 20 million people in 2050.

On the occasion of the World Day dedicated to promoting awareness about this disease, which is commemorated every April 11, the speech therapist specializing in Parkinson's, Martha Suárez Torres, in an interview with DIARIO LAS AMÉRICAS explained that this condition “is a multifactorial syndromic condition that occurs at the brain level and affects the dopaminergic system, destroying the dopamine-producing neurons in the brain; Dopamine is a brain neurotransmitter that is key in controlling body movements.

He added that because Parkinson's is a neuromotor condition, “it causes damage to the circuit that controls the coordination of movements and influences balance, speech, walking, voice and coordination.”

Suárez specified that this pathology can present in three forms: juvenile-onset Parkinson's, which is diagnosed up to the age of 20, and early-onset Parkinson's, which is detected from the age of 21 to approximately 45. years, and the late-onset idiopathic that appears after 50 years and older.

In turn, he expressed that although Parkinson's is more prevalent among those over 65 years of age, “approximately 15 percent of people diagnosed are under 50 years of age.”

He explained that late-onset diagnoses continue to have the highest percentage at 60%, “but they also occur at younger ages with a lower incidence.”


Regarding the diagnosis, the expert volunteer member and collaborator of the Venezuelan Civil Association Parkinson Caracas, which will be carrying out activities during the month of April to raise awareness about this disease, explained that Parkinson's is manifested by the clinical triad of “tremor.” at rest, muscle rigidity and difficulty in movement, which are the most obvious characteristics.

However, he stated that in its evolution, premotor symptoms may appear such as loss of smell that is not recovered, depression, constipation or constipation and sleep disorders, which can appear even several years before. of the onset of motor symptoms.

In this regard, he said that depression is a premotor symptom, “which appears several years before motor symptoms, and is already a manifestation of Parkinson's disease.”

He added that other discrete symptoms of Parkinson's are “failure to write, alteration of the voice, loss of balance of the arms and changes in the way of walking.”

He stressed that motor symptoms are not initial signs of the disease, since when they appear it is because 10 years of degeneration have already passed.

On the other hand, Suárez highlighted that there is currently no specific test to diagnose Parkinson's disease. “The diagnosis is made by a neurologist, based on medical history, a review of symptoms, and neurological and physical examinations such as an MRI of the brain, dopamine transporter imaging (DaTscan) or blood analysis,” he noted.

Causes and factors

The specialist in neurodegenerative diseases specified that aging continues to be the main risk factor for the development of Parkinson's disease, due to the aging of the population.

On the other hand, he pointed out that there is a percentage between 5 and 10% genetic, which is usually Parkinson's with juvenile onset at an early age.

Although the exact causes of Parkinson's are unknown, it is believed that it may also be due to a combination of genetic factors and recurrent unprotected exposure to toxic environmental conditions such as pesticides, air pollution and solvents. industrial chemicals that could increase the risk of Parkinson's.


In that sense, he emphasized that Parkinson's disease has no cure, but there are two types of treatment. The first-line ones are supplied through medications that attempt to directly replace dopamine and improve the function of the affected areas of the brain.

Additionally, there are second-line medications that are more innovative and effective, recommended in more advanced cases when the medication is no longer effective. These include high-intensity ultrasound, infusion pumps and surgery called “deep brain stimulation,” in which electrodes and a pacemaker activate neurons.

He mentioned that, in addition, there are other non-pharmacological alternatives to stop neurodegeneration and maintain the quality of life of those who suffer from Parkinson's, such as speech therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

Is Parkinson's preventable?

He assured that until now there is no known prevention factor to avoid the development of Parkinson's. However, it recommends maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes a good diet based on an anti-inflammatory diet, a good sleep routine, and regular physical exercise.

He indicated that, although for many diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cerebrovascular conditions, cigarette consumption is a risk factor, different studies have shown that in the case of Parkinson's it can be considered a “protective factor,” by promoting the stability and maintenance of dopaminergic neurons.

Finally, he highlighted the importance of early detection and establishing adequate treatment to slow the disease and improve the lives of patients with Parkinson's.