April is National Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month. All this month, we will feature a series of posts addressing Parkinson’s disease symptoms, genetics, treatment options and more from NorthShore neurologists—Demetrius Maraganore, MD, Aikaterini Markopoulou,
MD, and Ashvini Premkumar, MD— to raise awareness about this common and often disabling neurological disorder.
Demetrius Maraganore, MD:
Are the children of a parent with Parkinson’s disease likely to inherit the disease? Is there a greater risk
if the father or the mother has the disease?
My research team conducted family studies that defined the risk of inheriting Parkinson’s disease. The children of Parkinson’s disease patients carry a two-fold risk for Parkinson’s disease. They are twice as likely to get Parkinson’s disease compared to the
children of persons without Parkinson’s disease. However, one needs to consider that the lifetime risk for Parkinson’s disease in the general population is 2%, so the risk of Parkinson’s disease for the children of a patient is 4%, or twice the baseline risk
for the general population. That’s a pretty low risk and I wouldn't recommend any specific lifestyle changes or preventive therapies for the children of patients with Parkinson’s disease.
That said, about 5% of Parkinson’s disease cases are due to an inherited gene abnormality (mutation). In families where multiple members have Parkinson’s disease, the risk may be as great as 50% to the children of an affected person. When there are multiple
family members with Parkinson’s disease, I refer patients for genetic counseling and in some instances we also perform genetic testing.
What are the most important genetic risk factors for Parkinson’s disease?
There are two types of genetic factors that are important to Parkinson’s disease: 1) genes that rarely cause familial Parkinson’s disease (multiple affected members in the same kindred), and 2) genes that are not causal but that slightly increase the risk for
Parkinson’s disease in populations worldwide (susceptibility genes). About a dozen genes have been identified as rare causes of familial Parkinson’s disease, and about a dozen genes have been identified as common risk factors in populations worldwide. The
causal gene mutations are rare, accounting for less than 5% of all Parkinson’s disease cases. The susceptibility gene variants are common—e.g., occurring in 25% of persons in the general population—but they have small effects (no more than doubling the risk
for Parkinson’s disease).
Of all of the Parkinson’s disease genes, the most important is alpha-synuclein because it is both a causal gene in some families and also a susceptibility gene in populations worldwide. In other words, rare variants (mutations) cause Parkinson’s disease in
rare families, while common variations (polymorphisms) increase the risk for Parkinson’s disease worldwide.
The alpha-synuclein gene holds the code for making the protein alpha-synuclein. The protein alpha-synuclein accumulates abnormally in the brain cells of every patient with Parkinson’s disease regardless of the causes. Many scientists believe that it holds the
key to understanding and curing Parkinson’s disease. Our research team at NorthShore has led many of the most important studies of alpha-synuclein and Parkinson’s disease, including studies in families and in populations worldwide. We were also amongst the
first to study the interaction of alpha-synuclein with other genes or environmental factors, or to study the association of the alpha-synuclein gene with motor and cognitive outcomes in Parkinson’s disease.
Are there genetic research studies of Parkinson’s disease at NorthShore? How can I participate?
At NorthShore we are conducting a genetic study called the DodoNA Project. We aim to discover genetic factors that predict how neurological diseases progress in severity and that predict disease outcomes. We aim to use this information to individualize the
care of our patients and to halt the progression of neurological diseases. One of the diseases we are studying is Parkinson’s disease.
We will enroll at least 1,000 Parkinson’s disease patients into the study, and follow them at least annually for several years. To be eligible for the study you need to be new to our Movement Disorders practice within the past year, a resident of Cook or Lake
County and willing to provide a blood sample for DNA extraction and storage. We also require your permission to compare your genetic code with the information that we collect in your medical record.
If you wish to participate, the best thing to do is to request an appointment to be seen as a patient in the Department of Neurology at NorthShore. We can then enroll you into the study after your office visit. You can also support the DodoNA project by joining
forces with NorthShore’s Auxiliary and by supporting the
Hepatitis C, a virus which can lead to chronic liver disease, is spread through contact of already infected blood. Many individuals who are
infected with the hepatitis C virus do not experience symptoms and are not aware of having the virus.
Dhiren Shah, MD, a gastroenterologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem, shares some important information on transmission
of hepatitis C and tips on minimizing your risk:
Who should be screened for hepatitis C?
Is there a vaccine for hepatitis C? To date, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C; however, you should be screened for hepatitis A and B, and get vaccinated if you have not been previously exposed.
What other questions do you have about hepatitis C?
The diagnosis can be hard and may leave you wondering if you’ll ever be able to return to your regular activities. Not everyone
with multiple sclerosis (MS) experiences the same symptoms—ranging from fatigue, numbness, loss of balance and coordination, to speech or muscle problems—and most people with this disease do not suffer paralysis or become severely disabled.
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, more than 2.1 million people in the world are affected by MS. Given that in many cases the signs of MS can be difficult to detect, it’s hard to know exactly how many in the United States are impacted
by the condition.
We do know that for those who do have MS, the journey through the disease can be very debilitating.
Zulma Hernandez-Peraza, MD, neurologist at NorthShore, shares her advice on how to cope with the diagnosis and adapt your life accordingly:
Do you know someone living with MS?
Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in both men and women in the United States. However,
if everyone over the age of 50 were regularly screened, it might be possible to reduce deaths associated with colorectal cancer by as much as 60 percent.
Many women believe that colorectal cancer is a disease that affects more men than women, so they might not be aware of or believe they need to follow current screening recommendations. National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month this March is the right time
to spread the word that colorectal cancer affects men and women equally and that screening saves lives.
Joel Retsky, MD, Gastroenterologist, shares some important information about colorectal cancer everyone should know, men and women:
If you’re 50 or over and have never been screened for colorectal cancer, make National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month the month you schedule your first appointment.
Have you been screened for colorectal cancer?
There seems to be a diet out these days to appeal to everyone trying to trim down. And, with the barrage of different diets in the
media, it's hard to know which diets work and which fall short.
What's important in a safe and healthy approach to weight loss? Before starting a diet be sure that your plan includes the following:
It’s balanced. By excluding food groups, your body is at risk of being deprived of the nutrients it needs to function. For example, the popular
Atkins Diet drastically reduces carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are a major source of energy for the cells of the body and also are a main source of your daily fiber needs.
It focuses on portion control. Have you ever seen the MyPlate
icon? MyPlate focuses on portion control and balanced meals by dividing a standard dinner plate into four food groups—fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein, with a side of dairy. Portion control is important to avoid overeating and can help reduce
It teaches lifelong, healthy eating habits. Longevity is impossible with impractical fad diets like The Hollywood Cookie Diet
and The Grapefruit Diet, which severely restrict calories and lack the nutrition (not to mention the variety) that your taste buds crave. By eating balanced meals and controlling portions, weight loss is achievable and can be maintained
throughout your entire life without having to crash diet.
For a healthy, balanced diet with controlled portions always remember to:
Which diet approaches have worked for you?
This article was submitted by Lindsay Sankovsky, Dietetic Intern, and reviewed by Kimberly Hammon, MS, RD, LDN.
Eating healthy and staying healthy is something that millions of Americans strive for every day. Unfortunately, it's not always so easy to eat healthy on a daily basis. With 36% of adults in U.S. considered obese, it's becoming more important for both adults
and children to start eating healthier. The experts from NorthShore University HealthSystem have provided some general guidelines for the recommended intake of each food group, suggestions for creating a healthy meal plan every day, as well as some healthy
Click on our
infographic for more ideas on creating a healthy meal plan with great healthy food substitutions.
When children get sick, the simple solution isn’t always just a pill or spoonful away. Aside from the fact that many medications are not
recommended for children, it's also much easier for a child to overdose on medication than an adult.
In most cases, the amount of medicine a child should receive is determined by age, weight and height. When it comes to children and medication, reading labels is very important.
Dirk Killelea, Manager of NorthShore Evanston Hospital Pharmacy, shares the following “must-know” tips for giving children medications:
The best remedy for most kids is rest and hydration. If your child has a fever or cold, keep activities to a minimum and make sure they aren't too strenuous. Coloring, drawing or reading stories is a great way to spend time until he or she feels better.
If your child is experiencing loose stools or diarrhea, make sure to provide plenty of water or electrolyte-containing drinks like Pedialyte to prevent dehydration.
How do you manage your kids’ illnesses? What remedies work best for you?
A good night’s sleep can be the difference between night and day with children. Frequent lack of sleep can greatly impact a
child’s physical, mental and social well-being. It's also hard on the entire family.
It's recommended that children between the ages of six and twelve get 10-11 hours of sleep each night. This allows them to be better rested for school, and to further their growth and development. The challenge with childhood sleep disorders is that they
aren’t always easy to recognize. In fact, since the symptoms are so similar to other conditions (such as ADD and ADHD), sleep disorders often go misdiagnosed.
Mari Viola-Saltzman, DO, Sleep Medicine specialist, who sees both pediatric and adult patients, identifies some of the secondary effects childhood sleep
disorders may have:
How many hours of sleep do your children get each night? Do they have a nightly routine?
As the old adage goes, “You are what you eat.” When it comes to your health, this saying is true — eating healthier foods will make you feel
better, have more energy and help you maintain your weight.
Many of the foods we eat—as tasty as they are—aren’t always the easiest for our system to digest. This is true for highly processed foods, and foods high in sodium, sugar, saturated fats and cholesterol. It’s not to say that, in moderation, we can’t enjoy
some of these foods, but research has proven that a diet high in fresh food, especially green vegetables, may help prevent colon cancer.
Considering colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in men and women, it’s nice to know that a balanced, healthy diet may be the first step toward disease prevention.
Yolandra Johnson, MD, Gastroenterologist at NorthShore, provides easy ways to work more greens and other vegetables into your daily diet:
What are some of your favorite dishes that include vegetables? What are some of your tricks for including veggies in your diet?
It’s one thing to occasionally feel down, unenergetic and tired out, especially given the busy lives
so many of us lead. However, consistently experiencing feelings of sadness, exhaustion and anxiety to a point where it affects the rest of your life can be cause for concern.
Depression is a very common mental illness and impacts people in various ways. It is estimated that one in ten adults suffers from depression at some point during their lifetime.
Frederick Miller, MD, PhD, Psychiatrist at NorthShore, recognizes that living with depression can be a challenge. He offers the following tips for managing and coping
What makes you happy? How to you manage feelings of sadness and/or depression?