Rev. Jesse Jackson diagnosed with Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease affects more men than women and usually appears after age 50.
By Delila James | Nov 20, 2017
Civil rights leader and two-time Democratic presidential candidate the Rev. Jesse Jackson announced Friday that doctors have diagnosed him with Parkinson's disease.

Parkinson's disease causes muscle tremors, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordinating movement.

"My family and I began to notice changes about three years ago," wrote Jackson in a statement, as reported by CNN. "After a battery of tests, my physicians identified the issue as Parkinson's disease, a disease that bested my father."

He also said he realizes he now must make lifestyle changes and commit to physical therapy in hopes of slowing down the progression of the disease.

About 1 million people in the United States have Parkinson's, according to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation. It affects more men than women and usually appears after age 50. As many as a quarter of Parkinson's patients have a family member with the disease.

Parkinson's can be difficult to diagnose because no specific test for it exists. It is caused by the depletion of brain cells containing the necessary neurotransmitter dopamine.

The most common treatment for Parkinson's is levodopa, which converts to dopamine in the brain. When medication fails, some patients can choose a surgical intervention, such as implantation of electrodes in the brain.

"I am far from alone," continued Jackson in his statement. "I want to thank my family and friends who continue to care for me and support me. I will need your prayers and graceful understanding as I undertake this new challenge."

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