Vascular Parkinsonism – all you need to know
People with Vascular Parkinsonism may have Parkinson’s-like symptoms. But the main difference between Vascular Parkinsonism and Parkinson’s is how the two conditions are caused and how they affect the patients.
In this article, we will cover all you need to know about this condition, including its types, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and the best treatment for Vascular Parkinsonism in India.
What is Parkinsonism?
Parkinsonism is an umbrella term used to describe the primary symptoms of Parkinson’s – tremors, rigidity, and slowed movement. These symptoms do not always mean
The four types of Parkinsonisms are:
- Drug-induced parkinsonism may be caused by some types of antipsychotic medication that may have side-effects similar to symptoms of Parkinson’s
- Progressive brain conditions, such as multiple systems atrophy, progressive supranuclear palsy, and corticobasal degeneration can also exhibit symptoms similar to those of Parkinson’s
- Cerebrovascular disease are caused by multiple small strokes; most of the time these strokes go unnoticed but can lead to conditions like Vascular Parkinsonism
- Idiopathic parkinsonism may exhibit Parkinson’s-like symptoms, but the cause of the condition is unknown
About Vascular Parkinsonism
Vascular Parkinsonism is a result of damage to the basal ganglia, the part of the brain that controls movement. This damage is caused by multiple small strokes. It is a type of cerebrovascular disease (a form of atypical Parkinsonism) and can severely impact motor coordination and muscle tone.
Over a period of time, Vascular Parkinsonism leads to loss of nerve cells, just like in Parkinson’s.
Subsets of Vascular Parkinsonism
There are three types of Vascular Parkinsonism. They are –
- Acute or delayed progressive onset form – can appear suddenly after a cerebrovascular accident (loss of blood flow to the brain); symptoms worsen gradually
- Vascular parkinsonism of insidious onset – gradual progression of symptoms
- Mixed neurodegenerative parkinsonism and cerebrovascular disease – diagnostic overlap of two neurodegenerative conditions
Symptoms of Vascular Parkinsonism
Vascular Parkinsonism is also referred to as multi-infarct parkinsonism and can be characterized by Parkinson’s symptoms like –
- Slow movements
- Walking and balance issues
- Muscle stiffness and rigidity
- Limb weakness
Tremors are most common in Parkinson’s, however it isn’t one of the main symptoms of Vascular Parkinsonism. Some patients have been known to experience ‘resting tremors’ in the later stages of their disease.
Imp note: While strokes in the brain are the main cause of Vascular Parkinsonism, please remember strokes can also affect reflexes, speech, and cognition.
Causes of Vascular Parkinsonism
Vascular Parkinsonism is the result of disruption of blood flow to the brain cells (typically caused by a stroke). This in turn damages the basal ganglia, the part of the brain that controls motor function and coordination.
But what causes these strokes?
High blood pressure resulting in narrowing of blood vessels can restrict blood flow to the brain cells causing stroke(s).
Atherosclerosis is a condition that causes fatty plaque deposits in the arteries in the brain. This too can disrupt blood flow to the brain and cause stroke(s).
Blood clot(s) in a blood vessel in the brain or elsewhere in the body can break off and get lodged in a brain artery leading to stroke(s).
The risk factors of Vascular Parkinsonism include:
- High blood pressure
- Atrial fibrillation
Diagnosing Vascular Parkinsonism
Apart from a thorough review of the patient’s symptoms, medical history (including family history), physical examination, and current medications, neurologists recommend MRI of the brain, and brain imaging (CT scans) to detect –
- Signs and symptoms of stroke
- Affected areas of the brain
Treatment and care
Treatment for Vascular Parkinsonism is aimed at reducing the degree of symptoms and progression of the disease. In many ways, a new lease on life may be on the anvil if the patient can take control of their blood pressure, blood sugar levels, quit smoking, exercise regularly, and eat balanced meals.
But of course being handed a Vascular Parkinsonism diagnosis can be extremely distressing. This is why at Plexus Neuro Centre our team of expert nutritionists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and mental health specialists can devise a treatment plan that allows you to live life to the fullest, Vascular Parkinsonism notwithstanding.
Living with Vascular Parkinsonism
Vascular Parkinsonism is a progressive condition, yes. But it does not have to affect your life and your zest for life in the least. In most cases, the symptoms remain steady for years, meaning there is hardly any visible motor deterioration. As long as you are cognizant of your condition, its accompanying risk factors, and are diligent about the treatment, your life does not have to come to a halt.
There is no standing still with Vascular Parkinsonism. There is only moving forward, cheerfully and determinedly.
Does Vascular Parkinsonism cause dementia?
Yes, Vascular Parkinsonism can cause dementia which may manifest in the form of impairment of attention, judgment, clarity of speech, planning and decision-making.
All Vascular Parkinsonism patients do not have dementia.
What is the life expectancy of Vascular Parkinsonism?
Vascular Parkinsonism can lead to cardiovascular ailments like heart disease. This can reduce life expectancy.
Can you recover from Parkinsonism?
Drug-induced Parkinsonism may be curable. But all other forms of Parkinsonism can only be treated with managing symptoms and reducing the odds of progression.
Does Vascular Parkinsonism get worse?
If the patient is at risk of more strokes, Vascular Parkinsonism can worsen over time.
What part of the brain is affected by Parkinsonism?
The basal ganglia, the part of the brain that controls motor function, is affected by Parkinsonism.
Can Parkinsonism cause a stroke?
Strokes can cause Vascular Parkinsonism. There is little to no evidence that suggests Parkinsonism causes stroke.
What are the risk factors for Vascular Parkinsonism?
The risk factors for Vascular Parkinsonism include:
- High blood pressure
- Atrial fibrillation
Can you live a normal life with Parkinson’s?
Yes, you can live a normal life with Parkinson’s. As long as you are mindful of your condition, and are diligent about your medication, treatment, and therapies, Parkinson’s does not deter you from leading a normal life. However, as the disease progresses and motor impairment sets in, patients need more assistance and support from their caregivers.