Our commitment to Parkinson’s Disease
Since 1992, Britannia has pioneered the development and marketing of products for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. We remain committed to making breakthroughs and providing ethical treatments and services for people living with Parkinson’s, and to continue to educate the healthcare community.
What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition that occurs when some of the cells in the brain (neurons) stop working properly and are lost over time. It is the second most common age-related neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s disease. The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease generally develop slowly over years and the progression of symptoms is often different from one person to another.
The neurons that are affected usually produce a chemical called dopamine, which is a chemical messenger that the neurons use to communicate with one another and their target tissues. Dopamine is involved in coordinating movement, which is why people with Parkinson’s disease typically have movement-related (motor) problems like shaking, rigidity and difficulty walking.
Treatments for Parkinson’s disease vary and primarily focus on improving and controlling these and other related symptoms unrelated to movement (non-motor).
What are the different types of Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinsonism is a term used to describe the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. People with Parkinson’s disease – and people with some other conditions – may have one or more of these signs and symptoms.1
This is the most common type of Parkinson’s disease (80-85%). Idiopathic means that the cause is not known. Currently, it is believed that a combination of genetic changes and environmental factors may be responsible for the condition.
Vascular Parkinson’s disease can occur when blood supply to the brain is restricted; it may be related to the occurrence of stroke.
Some drugs, especially anti-psychotics or anti-depressants, can cause Parkinson’s-like symptoms. The symptoms typically don’t progress, and most people recover if the drug is discontinued.
About 15% of those with symptoms suggesting Parkinson’s disease actually have another disease. These can include multiple system atrophy, progressive supranuclear palsy, or corticobasal syndrome.
What are the main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease?
The symptoms and the way they progress are different for everyone with Parkinson’s disease and most only experience some of them.
The three main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease affect movement (motor):
- Involuntary shaking (tremor)
- Muscle stiffness
- Slowness of movement
Other symptoms don’t affect movement (non-motor), and these may include:
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Sleep issues
- Memory problems
For further information about symptoms for Parkinson’s Disease, please visit: Parkinson’s disease – Symptoms – NHS
Parkinson’s disease statistics in the UK and around the world
People are living with Parkinson’s disease in the UK (2020)2
People worldwide are living with Parkinson’s disease3
Of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s are under the age of 50 in the UK2
Men are more likely to develop Parkinson’s than women in the UK3
* See references below
What treatments are available for Parkinson’s disease?
There are many different therapy options available for people with Parkinson’s disease. The goal of Parkinson’s disease therapy is to maximise the amount of time that symptoms are controlled.
Every person with Parkinson’s disease has a different experience and treatment regimens typically need to adapt over time as symptoms change. Treatments can include medications and surgical therapy, as well as lifestyle modifications.
“ON” or “OFF”
ON and OFF are commonly used terms that describe how well Parkinson’s disease symptoms are being managed.
Medication is working and controlling the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
The effects of the medication are starting to wear off and symptoms are returning
Medications for Parkinson’s disease typically work in one or more of the following ways:
- increase the amount of dopamine in the brain
- act as substitute for dopamine
- block the action of other factors (enzymes) that break down dopamine.
The choice of medication, method of delivery and dose depends on many factors, including symptoms, other health conditions and related medications, age, and a person’s individual needs. Managing the choice of medication and the way it is delivered ensures the symptoms are managed most effectively.
Advice for families
When a partner or other family member is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, this is also a change for the family that raises many questions: what will change, how can I help and how will my life change as a result?
Nothing will change overnight because Parkinson’s is usually a slowly progressing disease. Thanks to modern medications and support, it is often possible to carry on for many years without major restrictions.
However, some things are likely to change over time, especially for partners, and more and more help in everyday life will be needed as the disease progresses. Make sure to talk about any issues openly, find solutions that you are all happy with, and get help from healthcare support teams and specialist Parkinson’s disease groups, as needed. And, if you are caring for someone with Parkinson’s disease, do remember to take time for yourself too.
Further information and dedicated support are available from specialist charities and healthcare organisations, including: