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Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive disorder of the central nervous system involving certain nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter that the brain uses to help direct and control movement. In Parkinson’s disease, these dopamine-producing nerve cells die or become damaged, dopamine levels drop, and brain signals directing movement become abnormal. Symptoms include tremors, stiffness, slow and limited movement, weakness of face and throat muscles, and difficulty walking.

Complications and medical problems resulting from Parkinson’s are more likely to occur during the later stages of the disease and include dementia, pneumonia, blood clots, infections and injuries from falling. Advancing age is the only known risk factor for typical Parkinson’s disease, and although most instances of the disease occur after age 50, the illness can be seen in individuals as young as 30. The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, and there is no cure.

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