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Parkinson's Disease

Genetics vs. Rx

07/22/2008

Question:

My grandfather recently passed away due to complications with Parkinsons and Alzheimers...He was on so many Rx drugs it was hard to keep count. Is Parkinsons genetic? If so what do the drugs do? Do they just pro long the fight? Keep pain away?

He is the first in our family to die of anything but old age...could you please fill me in if this may be Genetic or im some types of medications or chemicals cause/prevent this? Thank you for your time

Answer:

The cause of Parkinson's disease (PD) is felt not to be purely genetic, and is probably multi-factorial including environmental exposures, hereditary predisposition, and aging. The lifetime risk of an individual developing PD who has a sibling or parent with PD is very low, and only slightly higher than in an individual without a family member with PD. Currently, there have a been a handful of gene mutations identified associated to PD, but these account for a very small percentage of patient's with PD. Overall, the major genetic risk factors are not yet identified and are still being researched.

Also being investigated are environmental factors associated with PD, and at this time there is no specific medication that can prevent PD. However, there are numerous investigations looking at various substances that can possibly slow progression of PD. Current parkinsonian medications available are basically symptomatic to treat mainly motor symptoms (bradykinesia/slowness, stiffness/rigidity, and tremor).

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Response by:

Punit  Agrawal, DO Punit Agrawal, DO
Assistant Professor of Neurology
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University