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April is National Parkinson Awareness Month

Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's, impacting as many as four to six million people worldwide. According the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 50,000 new cases are diagnosed each year and complications related to PD are the 14th leading cause of death in the nation. Even more, the estimations within the western Pennsylvania region are especially concerning. Approximately 10,000 people within our area are currently living with the PD and the prevalence of the disease is expected to increase substantially in the next 20 years due to the aging of the population.

Normally, cells within the brain – called neurons – produce sufficient levels of dopamine, the chemical that allows for smooth, controlled muscle movements within the human body. When 60 to 80 percent of the dopamine-producing cells are damaged, and not able to produce enough dopamine, the motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease appear. This process of the impairment of brain cells is called neurodegeneration.

At present, there is no cure for PD. National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) chapters across the country are accordingly committed to improving the lives of people with PD through research, education and outreach. The National Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania (NPFWPA) works with over 20 regional support groups and six wellness programs to ensure the local PD community – people living with PD, their caregivers and loved ones – have the information, services and education they need to live with perseverance, grace and purpose.

As the leading resource for PD in our region, NPFWPA encourages you to get involved during Parkinson's Awareness Month. It's an opportunity for us to come together to increase the public's understanding of this disease, show support for the local PD community and make a difference.

To learn more information about this disease or get involved in the fight against PD, visit www.pfwpa.org or call (412) 837-2542.

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