02/07/2022, 00:20, Photo: Reproduction.
Journalist and presenter Renata Capucci shared on the podcast “This is Fantastic” that she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s four years ago, at age 45. In the recording, she reports what it was like to receive the diagnosis: “That fell like an anvil on top of my head”. (read more below)
After the news was released, Renata made a post on her social networks in which she says she waited for the right time to reveal this to the world, inviting people to overcome prejudice and misinformation related to neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s: (read lower)
“I thought a lot about this moment. I knew it would come and it would come at the right time, when I feel exactly how I feel today: strong, confident and happy. It’s not easy. But it’s not the end,” he wrote in the publication. .
What is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease – the second most common, after Alzheimer’s – that affects the area of the brain responsible for controlling the body’s movements, causing stiffness of muscles and slowness of movement.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that 1% of the world population over 65 years of age live with the disease. In Brazil there are about 200 thousand people. With the increase in life expectancy and the aging of the population, it is believed that this percentage could reach 3% by 2030.
In general, Parkinson’s affects older individuals, starting at age 60. But, like Renata, a portion of 15% to 20% of all carriers begin to show symptoms before this age group. In these cases, the disease is classified as early Parkinson’s.
What are the main symptoms?
On the podcast, Renata told a little more about the first symptoms of the disease:
“I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in October 2018, when I was 45. Today I’m 49. I was in the middle of the Popstar program, which I was on. I started with the symptoms a little earlier. I started limping and people they said to me: ‘why are you limping, Renata?’. And I said: ‘I’m not limping’. I didn’t realize I was limping. At one point, in the middle of Popstar, after the sixth show, I was at home and my arm came up on its own, stiff. And my husband, who is a doctor, took me to a hospital that had a neurological emergency and I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s ” , said.
As it is a progressive disease, the initial symptoms are subtle and gradually increase. They usually start on one side of the body or even a left or right limb. As the condition progresses, both sides are affected.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Parkinson’s has four main symptoms:
- Impaired balance: One of the first signs is frequent falls. With postural instability and slow movement caused by neurodegeneration, there is an increase in stumbling;
- tremor: The most characteristic symptom of Parkinson’s disease is tremor, which can occur in the hands, arms, legs, jaw, or head. Most people immediately associate this symptom when thinking about the disease, however, it is only one of the clues;
- Stiffness of limbs and trunk: many people with Parkinson’s may experience the impression that the muscles are always too tight. A person with the condition often develops a tendency to lean forward when walking and, with shorter steps, ends up dragging their feet. In addition, there is a reduction in arm swing when walking and a greater difficulty in starting or continuing any movement;
- Slowness of movement: in practice, people with Parkinson’s perceive themselves to be slower, with difficulties getting up from a chair, for example, or with less agility when dressing.
Usually, family and friends notice this symptom more easily when they notice that the person is slower to perform some activities, such as those that involve motor coordination. In addition, Renata also revealed that she became depressed after receiving the diagnosis:
“I’ve been through all the phases, from depression, from denial. Today, I’m in phase five where I look this disease in the face and I say: ‘Mr Parkinson, I have you, you don’t have me’. I do everything I can from exercise, from medication, and I have a positive life,” he added.
It is worth remembering that depression can be one of the signs of Parkinson’s and is part of the so-called “non-motor symptoms”, which also include: apathy, difficulty swallowing, chewing and speaking, mood disorders, sleep disorders, constipation, sexual dysfunction, urinary and gastrointestinal problems, among others.
Is Parkinson’s fatal?
Nobody dies from Parkinson’s, but from Parkinson’s. In other words, the mortality of people diagnosed with the disease is related to the resulting complications.
For example, a parkinsonian has impaired swallowing function – difficulty swallowing -, which ends up increasing the chances of developing pneumonia from aspiration of food (or saliva itself).
It is important to emphasize that, although Parkinson’s still has no cure, it is a disease in which the symptoms and progression of the condition can be alleviated and controlled through appropriate treatment. With the help of medication, physiotherapy and speech therapy, good nutrition and access to psychological counseling, the person can have a better and more independent life.
Because it is a neurodegenerative and chronic progressive disease, Parkinson’s follows the person for the rest of his life. There is no exact average time for it to develop and reach the last stage, but today, with the advancement of science and treatments, a parkinsonian can live with the condition for 15 years or more.
How is the treatment done?
Although Parkinson’s disease has no cure, treatment is essential and aims to control symptoms, that is, to reduce the functional impairment caused by neurodegeneration. Thus, the carrier is more likely to live a more independent and quality life for longer.
The best form of treatment for the disease is a combination of medication and rehabilitation. In the case of drug treatment, the drugs prescribed by the doctor act directly on the brain to delay the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
However, not all symptoms respond well to medications: muscle stiffness, slowness of movement and tremor are the ones that respond best to this approach. (read more below)
Therefore, it is important to follow a multidisciplinary treatment, which includes physiotherapy, speech therapy exercises and nutritional and psychological monitoring. All of these options will help, along with medication, to reduce the progression of symptoms.
Source: Dr. Jairo Bouer