Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Working With Your Physician To Identify And Manage The Symptoms Of Parkinson's Disease

(NAPSI)-Bijan Farzan was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1996 and has been living with the condition over the past 12 years. Farzan first became aware of Parkinson's disease when he watched Muhammad Ali light the torch at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996. This event sparked Farzan's curiosity, and led the retired senior engineering executive to research and learn more about the movement disorder that affects over 1.5 million Americans.

Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system and may appear at any age, but the average age of onset is about 60. Parkinson's disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's disease, and is expected to affect an increasing number of people as the population's average life expectancy rises. The primary symptoms of the disease include rigidity and/or tremors of a limb, slow movement and postural instability. Because there is no lab test that can identify the disease, Farzan worked closely with his physician to reach the eventual diagnosis for Parkinson's disease.

The first symptoms Farzan experienced were on one side of his body, a common occurrence for people newly diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. He started experiencing tremors in his left leg, which affected his ability to walk and also caused him to have trouble sleeping at night. The slowness on his left side eventually affected his left hand, and he found that when typing, his right hand would finish typing before his left hand had a chance to begin. Farzan also found that he could not go out as often as he would have liked, and when he did he would have to walk a little slower. He also had to adjust his schedule so that he would be able to accomplish all of his errands before needing to rest. Farzan said that these symptoms are among the toughest hurdles of living with Parkinson's disease, but with the help of treatment, he has remained active and involved in his community.

Although there is no cure for Parkinson's disease, many effective medications are now available to treat the symptoms. The most widely-used therapy to treat the symptoms of the disease is levodopa, and it has been the cornerstone of Parkinson's disease therapy for nearly 40 years. However, after several years of treatment, the effects of levodopa tend to wear off, and people with Parkinson's disease may see changes in the way their medication controls their symptoms. This means that symptoms may re-emerge before it is time for the next scheduled dose of medication.

Farzan was prescribed treatment with levodopa to better manage his symptoms. For a few years, the treatment was working fine and then according to Farzan, "it started wearing off." He noticed that his medication was not lasting as long as it used to and that his symptoms would re-emerge between doses. One of the greatest challenges with his symptoms re-emerging was that he was no longer able to get a full night's rest because his legs would begin to tremor.

To help reduce the effects of symptom re-emergence due to end-of-dose wearing off, Farzan's physician prescribed Stalevo® (carbidopa, levodopa and entacapone). Stalevo is a levodopa therapy that combines levodopa and two other ingredients to extend its benefits. This enables many people with Parkinson's disease who are experiencing symptom re-emergence, to have an improved ability to perform everyday tasks. Stalevo also helps in reducing symptoms associated with the disease. Stalevo is indicated for certain patients with Parkinson's disease who are experiencing end-of-dose "wearing off".

Since starting on Stalevo, Farzan has found that he is more active and can go on longer walks even though he has Parkinson's disease. The medication has also helped him to control his leg tremors, which allows him to sleep better at night.

The most common side effects of Stalevo are unwanted or uncontrollable movements (known as dyskinesia), nausea, diarrhea, excessive muscle movements (known as hyperkinesia), harmless discoloration of urine, sweat and/or saliva; diminished or slow movements (known as hypokinesia), abdominal pain, dizziness, constipation, fatigue, pain, and hallucinations. Some of the more serious side effects may include severe diarrhea, severe dyskinesia, hallucinations, other mental disturbances, orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure), rhabdomyolysis (a muscle disease), and symptoms resembling neuroleptic malignant syndrome (a condition characterized by fever and muscle stiffness).

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