The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is the part of the nervous system that controls involuntary or unconscious actions within the body. It regulates the function of many organs and controls heart rate, breathing, body temperature, blood pressure, digestion and sexual function. Autonomic dysfunction often occurs in Parkinson’s due to the loss of dopamine-producing cells and the presence of microscopic protein deposits called “Lewy bodies” in the brain. As a result, a number of non-motor symptoms may be experienced. Research suggests that the autonomic nervous system may be affected long before such symptoms appear, and that approximately 90% of people with Parkinson’s experience autonomic dysfunction which may considerably reduce quality of life.
Scientists also now recognize that many medications used to treat Parkinson’s can affect the ANS, making symptoms worse. Symptoms attributed to dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system include:
-Loss of smell & taste
-Low blood pressure
Our expert panel consists of a Urologist (Dr. Gary Lemack), Gastroenterologist (Dr. Roopa Vemulapalli) and Neurologist specializing in autonomic dysfunction (Dr. Steve Vernino). Dr. Shilpa Chitnis, Movement Disorders Specialist, will be moderating the discussion, which will give attendees the opportunity to learn, engage and interact, so that they are educated, empowered and equipped with the knowledge they need to better understand and treat autonomic dysfunction in PD.