Many associate Parkinson’s disease with older men, but women are also at risk…

Parkinson’s disease is typically associated with old age and is thought to have a higher prevalence among Caucasian men. However, many of our assumptions may be suspect because of the scarcity of data in South Africa.

A study published in The South African Medical Journal suggests that South African patients may have an earlier age of onset. The authors also cast doubts on the notion of higher prevalence rates among men because of possible recruitment biases in many studies.

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, the disease now affects more than 10 million people across the world. However, low awareness about the disease and the symptoms only delays detection.

Since early detection aids preventative action and Parkinson’s management strategies that may slow disease progression while reducing the financial burden and improving one’s quality of life, awareness is key.

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Here are a few things you may not know about the disease…                                                        

1. Women and men have different symptoms

Recognising the early signs of Parkinson’s can be challenging, but this is further complicated by possible differences on account of gender.

Dutch researchers observed a higher incidence of tremours in women, as compared to male patients. Another study also noted differences in motor symptoms, with women recording better scores. These findings also point to higher rates of depression and lower quality of life among women with Parkinson’s.

Understanding the differences in symptoms may help to improve early detection rates.

2. Prevention

Early preventative action, which includes a number of modifiable lifestyle factors, may significantly reduce the burden of disease.

Lifestyle factors include following a balanced diet and staying physically active. Interestingly, there is growing evidence that an active lifestyle can lower the risk of Parkinson’s by as much as 29% and also delay the progression of the disease.

How exercise slows the progression of Parkinson’s disease

3. Oestrogen may play a role

There is some evidence that Parkinson’s disease onset and progression in women may be affected by the female sex hormone, oestrogen.

Oestrogen may play a protective role, although the links are still not clearly understood. However, based on the little we do know, it’s advisable for women who know they have low oestrogen levels to talk to a trusted medical professional about their risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.