Q: My father, 64, was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. How long can a person live after diagnosis?
A: This is a very specific question. Each individual is different and this applies to the life expectancy as well.
In most cases Parkinson's Disease (PD) is a slowly progressive neurodegenerative disorder. Patients with PD have somewhat shorter life span compared with healthy individuals that belong to the same age group.
On average, patients with PD live between 10 to 20 years after the diagnosis. Patients should however put these numbers in the perspective of their current age.
There is no cure for Parkinson's disease; however many patients are only mildly affected and need no treatment for several years after the initial diagnosis.
In some people the disease progresses more quickly than in others. As the disease progresses, the shaking, or tremor, which affects the majority of PD patients may begin to interfere with daily activities.
PD is both chronic, meaning it persists over a long period of time, and progressive, meaning its symptoms grow worse over time. Ultimately, the drugs (for example, Sinemet) or surgery (like deep brain stimulation) help with some of the symptoms (like slowness of movement, rigidity, or tremor) but not much can be done to slow the progression of the disease.
The life expectancy in PD has improved over the past decades with advances in the medical and surgical management of the disease as well as with the development of a comprehensive approach to the patients' care.
Dr. Aleksandar Videnovic is a Neurologist, specializing in Parkinson's disease and movement disorders. Read his full biography