More cases of Parkinson’s being recognised in younger population: Neurologist

at 8:50 pm
Neurologist Dr. Ritu Jha

Faridabad (Haryana): Almost 1% people above the age of 65 years suffer from Parkinson’s Disease, a deadly illness which increases with the age of a human being, according to a senior Neurologist Dr Ritu Jha.

Parkinson’s is a neuro-degenerative disease, which primarily affects people above 60 years of age, says Dr Jha who is Head of Department and Senior Consultant (Neurology) at the Sarvodaya Hospital here on the outskirts of Delhi.

More cases of Parkinson’s are now being recognized in younger population due to increasing awareness, she says.

She says that though the number of patients varies across different states in India, various studies have shown that an average of 30 to 40 people per 1 lakh population in the country suffer from Parkinson’s Disease, which is high when adjusted for age.

About 3-5% cases are of the young people, Dr Jha says.

Parkinson’s affects males twice as much as females, according to the neurologist.

According to some studies, the prevalence is also slightly higher in rural population in India compared to the urban, she says.

“While patients of Parkinson’s Disease are doing much better these days with availability of more treatment options, increasing life span means there is more disability and disease burden,” Dr Jha says.

“Parkinson’s patients face many challenges in terms of treatment. First and foremost is the acceptability of this lifelong disease that requires medicines as long as one lives.

“Other challenges include cost of the medicine, access to a health facility where Parkinson’s treatment is available and adapting to the disease by making changes in one’s lifestyle to live with the disorder,” she says.

“Many patients, when diagnosed, first go into denial and then become withdrawn, as they are not as good functionally as earlier,” the doctor points out.

“Parkinson’s patients also have many non-motor symptoms such as depression, mood changes and cognitive decline. These are hardly recognized by physicians or family members as part of the disease, and hence are addressed poorly,” she adds.

Dr Jha says treatment for Parkinson’s has come a long way with new drugs, procedures like Deep Brain Stimulation and effective rehabilitation programs.

“Apomorphine injections and pumps are also available to decrease the “off periods” when medication, namely levodopa, is not working optimally, but these need to be used under strict supervision,” she adds.

“Gene therapy and stem cell therapy are also being evaluated as newer modalities but are still in experimental stages,” the doctor says.

“The Government needs to partner with neuro-physicians to spread awareness about Parkinson’s Disease in India, establish rehabilitation centres and palliative care centres where patients suffering from advanced stages of the disease can be provided care,” she counsels.

“The cost of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery also needs to be brought down so that more and more Parkinson’s patients can benefit from it,” the doctor underlines.