‘Heart and Brain’ launches free consultations and screenings for people with Parkinson’s disease

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Interview with prof. Ivan Dimitrov – Head of the Clinic for Nervous Diseases at ‘Heart and Brain’ Burgas on the occasion of World Parkinson’s Day

Every year on 11 April we celebrate World Parkinson’s Day. What is this disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive degenerative disease of the nervous system that is most commonly diagnosed in patients between 55-60 years of age. Both sexes are affected, with a slight male predominance. It is estimated that there are about 12 000 patients in Bulgaria. Although at first sight such a number of patients does not seem too large, the disease cannot actually be described as rare. The celebration of the World Day is a good occasion to give publicity to the possibilities of diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

What are the manifestations of the disease and the complaints that point to this diagnosis?

Unfortunately, at the beginning the disease develops asymptomatically. There is a period with non-specific complaints when it is difficult to make the diagnosis. Among the typical symptoms that appear later are slow movements, stiffness of the body and limbs and trembling (tremor). It is the tremor that most often impresses the patient and his relatives. It is important to stress, however, that not every tremor is a manifestation of Parkinson’s disease. For example, essential tremor disease is much more common.

 Are specialist tests needed to make the diagnosis?

A neurological examination is particularly important. A medication test is also done. Of course, the diagnostic process also includes some apparatus tests – a tremorogram, brain imaging. In any case, the diagnosis should be made by a specialist neurologist.

 And what is the treatment, can the development of the disease be stopped?

There are different types of treatment depending on the stage of the disease. In the early stages, after the diagnosis is made, treatment with medication is initiated, the appropriate ones being selected according to the specific clinical case. Some of these have neuroprotective effects and are thought to be able to slow the progression of the disease. In late Parkinson’s disease, when various complications occur, other therapeutic methods are also applied. These are the introduction of special medications via portable pumps or deep brain stimulation.

What options for diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s disease does the Heart and Brain Hospital in Burgas provide?

The Clinic of Nervous Diseases at ‘Heart and Brain’ Burgas works actively with patients with Parkinson’s disease, as well as with those in whom the diagnosis has not been made and should be confirmed. The hospital has a contract with the National Health Insurance Fund to work on clinical pathways covering Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor and other diseases associated with similar symptomatology. We have equipment for neurophysiological and imaging diagnostics, as well as a transcranial magnetic stimulator, treatments with which can relieve some of the patients’ symptoms.

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