Is Parkinson’s Hereditary?
We’ve all heard about Parkinson’s Disease. It’s been widely discussed in medical and popular culture since it was given a name in 1817.
But, even though it’s a disease that most people know exists, there is still a shocking amount that people don’t know about it.
Parkinson’s Disease affects around 6.2 million people globally. Since it touches the lives of so many people, we wanted to get to the bottom of this mysterious disease.
What are its symptoms? Is Parkinson’s hereditary? What can you do to prevent the disease? Continue reading to find these answers and more.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurological disease that targets the predominantly dopamine-producing neurons located in the brain.
These neurons live in the area of the brain called the substantia nigra which plays an important role in reward and the movement of the body. There is no cure for the disease.
PD is a degenerative disorder that affects everyone differently. Generally, people who have it will not experience all the symptoms of Parkinson’s, and if they do, they won’t necessarily experience them in the same order or at the same intensity as someone else.
There are, however, typical patterns of progression for PD that are defined in stages.
Stages of Parkinson’s Disease
- Stage One
- The person will experience mild symptoms that generally do not interfere with daily activities. They may experience tremors and other movement symptoms on one side of the body and changes in posture, walking, and facial expressions can occur.
- Stage Two
- The person will start to experience their symptoms getting worse. Tremors, rigidity, and other movement symptoms now affect both sides of the body. Walking problems and poor posture may become more apparent and while the person is still able to live alone, daily tasks are more difficult and lengthy.
- Stage Three
- Stage three is often considered mid-stage. Here, the person will experience loss of balance and slowness of movements and falls are more common. The person is still fully independent, but symptoms significantly impede daily activities like dressing and eating.
- Stage Four
- At this stage, PD is limiting. The person will help with daily activities such as eating and dressing, so they are unable to live alone. It’s possible to stand without assistance, but walking and other movements may require a walker.
- Stage Five
- The person will experience stiffness in the legs, making it impossible to stand or walk. The person requires a wheelchair or is bedridden and requires around-the-clock nursing care for all activities. The person may also experience hallucinations and delusions.
Is Parkinson’s Hereditary?
One out of 100 people over the age of 60 will develop Parkinson’s Disease. In 95% of those cases, doctors and specialists cannot pinpoint an exact reason why that people developed the disease.
More often than not, however, a combination of factors is involved in determining whether someone develops PD, including genetic susceptibility and environmental factors.
That being said, research has shown that genetic mutations are responsible for the rest of cases.
In the past 10 years, researchers have identified a number of rare instances where Parkinson’s disease appears to be caused by a single genetic mutation.
In these cases, the mutated gene is passed from generation to generation, resulting in a great number of Parkinson’s disease cases within an extended family.
Mutations in the LRRK2 gene are the greatest genetic contributor to Parkinson’s disease discovered to date.
How Can I Get Tested For Parkinson’s?
There is no objective, outright test (such as a blood test, brain scan or EEG) to make a definitive diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
Instead, a doctor takes a careful medical history and conducts a thorough neurological examination on you. Here, they are looking in particular for two or more of the cardinal signs to be present.
Along with that, the doctor will look at your responsiveness to Parkinson’s disease medications as further evidence that Parkinson’s is the correct diagnosis.
Unfortunately, even though there have been advancements in the diagnosis process, because there is no definitive test for Parkinson’s disease, and because Parkinson’s disease symptoms are similar to other neurological conditions, misdiagnosis can frequently happen.
It can be worthwhile to consider a second opinion.
How Can I Prevent Getting Parkinson’s Disease?
While there is no cure for the disease and no fool-proof way to not get it if you are already predisposed to the disease, there are lifestyle changes that you can adopt that can help prevent it from happening.
- Go Organic
- Eat Fresh, Raw Vegetables
- Incorporate Omega-3 Fatty Acids Into Your Diet
- Incorporate Vitamin D3 Into your Diet
- Do Regular Aerobic Exercise
Vitagene’s DNA lifestyle and nutrition plans are created from an analysis of your body’s unique genetic makeup. Each report is personalized and based on science, not trends. Learn more about Vitagene and our products here.