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Silent stroke may be one of the causes of Parkinson’s disease, researchers say

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Silent stroke may be one of the causes of Parkinson’s disease

In a study published in the journal “Brain Behavior and Immunity”, researchers at The University of Manchester showed for the first time why a seemingly healthy patient may develop Parkinson’s disease. According to new findings, a silent stroke may contribute to the occurrence of this debilitating disease. This explains why some patients with similar health problems in the past begin to have tremors and other neurological symptoms, while others  develop Parkinson’s disease without having major health problems in the past.

A stroke is a medical emergency that usually occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is obstructed. Stroke can result in strong headache, blurred vision, intense weakness, fatigue, malaise. There are also other symptoms that occur due to  brain damage, such as paralysis, blindness, etc.. Common causes of stroke are high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease being one of the main risk factors for stroke.

Parkinson's disease

Parkinson’s disease

There are situations when the stroke is silent, that is it occurs without the patient realizing that he went through such a condition. So it happens when ischemia that is causing stroke is transient, in other words the blood vessel is blocked for a short time. However, even silent stroke may have long-term consequences. One of them is the death of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra in the brain. Substantia nigra is a brain region with an important role in coordinating movement.

Dr. Emmanuel Pinteaux, who led the research, said they did not know at basaline why dopaminergic neurons die and why Parkinson’s disease develops. Several theories have been launched in this regard: oxidative stress and aging seem to be responsible for the disease. Therefore, researchers wanted to see which are the immediate consequences of silent stroke and if these changes have anything to do with Parkinson’s disease.

Results of experiments on laboratory animals were those expected by researchers. After they induced a mild stroke in the striatum area, a specific region of the brain, in mice, the researchers found that, besides affecting that specific area, the stroke also damaged  the substantia nigra. It was observed that the striatum area suffered a significant reduction of substance P along with a process of inflammation. In addition, 6 days later, the researchers noted an important process of neurodegeneration in the substantia nigra, that is death of dopaminergic neurons.

Dr Pinteaux said that the study points out the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes a healthy eating along with physical activity, so as to reduce the risk of stroke and possibly Parkinson’s disease.