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World Parkinson’s Day (11th April)

Dr Andrew Wilson

Dr Andrew Wilson, clinical chair of NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group

It’s World Parkinson’s Day on Saturday (11 April). Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological condition. Currently 145,000 people are living with Parkinson’s in the UK but more than a million people such as friends, families, neighbours and colleagues are affected by it indirectly.

If you know 66 people, the chances are you’ll know someone with it.

Here are three things we know about Parkinson’s:

  • It develops when cells in the brain stop working properly and are lost over time. These cells release a chemical called dopamine. Symptoms appear when the brain can no longer make enough dopamine
  • There are three main symptoms – tremors/ slowness of movement/ rigidity

We don’t know exactly when people get Parkinson’s but research suggests that it’s a combination of both genetic and environmental factors such as:

  • Loss of dopamine - The nerve cells that die and lead to the development of Parkinson's are responsible for producing a chemical known as dopamine. Dopamine allows messages to be sent to the parts of the brain that co-ordinate movement.
  • Genes - It's very rare for people to pass on Parkinson's to their children. It is estimated that only a very small number of people may have an increased risk of Parkinson's linked to their genes.
  • Environmental factors - There is some evidence that environmental factors (toxins) may cause dopamine-producing neurons to die, leading to the development of Parkinson's. The term “environment “refers to the world around you and the pathogens (viruses and bacteria), toxic chemicals and heavy metals that occupy it. In particular, there has been a great deal of speculation about the link between the use of herbicides and pesticides and the development of Parkinson's.

How to be part of World Parkinson’s Day:

  • Fundraising – You can take part in corporate fundraising or do your own local fundraising.
  • Volunteer – find a volunteer role for you.
  • Campaign – fight for better support for people affected by Parkinson’s.

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