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Facts for journalists

Here are some facts and figures for journalists about Parkinson's, how many people are affected, treatments and the work of Parkinson's UK.

What is Parkinson's?

Most people who get Parkinson's are aged 50 or over but younger people can get it too.

  • Parkinson's is a progressive neurological condition.
  • People with Parkinson's don't have enough of a chemical called dopamine because specific nerve cells inside their brain have died. It is not known why these cells die.
  • Without dopamine people can find that their movements become slower so it takes longer to do things. This can make everyday activities, such as eating, getting dressed, or using a phone or computer, difficult or frustrating.
  • The 3 main symptoms of Parkinson's are tremor, muscle stiffness and slowness of movement. But not everyone will experience all of these.
  • As well as the symptoms that affect movement, people with Parkinson's can find that other issues, such as tiredness, pain, depression and constipation, can have an impact on their day-to-day lives.
  • Parkinson's doesn't directly cause people to die, but symptoms do get worse over time.

How many people are affected by Parkinson's?

  • Every hour, someone in the UK is told they have Parkinson's.
  • One person in every 500 has Parkinson's. That's about 127,000 people in the UK.
  • Most people who get Parkinson's are aged 50 or over but younger people can get it too.

How is Parkinson's treated?

Every hour, someone in the UK is told they have Parkinson's. There is currently no cure.

  • There is currently no cure for Parkinson's, but there are a range of treatments to control the symptoms and maintain quality of life.
  • Medication is the main treatment for Parkinson's. Drugs work by restoring the level of dopamine in the brain or mimicking its actions, but can have side effects, including abnormal involuntary movements (dyskinesia) and impulsive and compulsive behaviour.
  • Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a type of surgery where electrodes are implanted deep inside specific parts of the brain. The electrodes are connected to a small battery under the skin in the person's chest, to generate electrical signals to stimulate the brain. If successful, DBS can provide significant improvement in an individual's symptoms and quality of life, but DBS is not a suitable option for everyone with Parkinson's.
  • Physical therapies such as physiotherapy, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy have an important role to play in the management of Parkinson's.

About Parkinson's UK

  • As the UK's Parkinson's support and research charity we're leading the work to find a cure, and we're closer than ever.
  • Parkinson's UK is the largest charity funder of Parkinson's research in Europe. Since 1969, we've invested over £75million in groundbreaking research.

Since 1969, we've invested amost £75million on research into all aspects of Parkinson's.

  • We bring people with Parkinson's, their carers and families together via our network of local groups, our website and free confidential helpline 0808 800 0303. Because we're here, no one has to face Parkinson's alone.
  • Specialist Parkinson's nurses, our supporters and staff provide information and training on every aspect of Parkinson's.
  • We campaign to change attitudes and demand better services.
  • Our free and confidential helpline 0808 800 0303 provides help and advice to all people affected by Parkinson's. Usual helpline opening hours are Monday-Friday 9am-7pm and Saturday 10am-2pm.
  • Our work is totally dependent on donations.