A small or silent stroke which shows no outward symptoms can cause Parkinson’s disease, scientists claim. In a new study, researchers from the University of Manchester have for the first time identified why a patient who appears outwardly healthy may develop Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system.

While conditions such as a severe stroke have been linked to the disease, for many sufferers the tremors and other symptoms of Parkinson’s can appear to come out of the blue.

A silent stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked for only a very short amount of time and often a patient won’t know they have suffered from one.

However, it now appears that one of the lasting effects of a silent stroke can be the death of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra in the brain, which is an important region for movement coordination. “At the moment we don’t know why dopaminergic neurons start to die in the brain, ”There have been suggestions that oxidative stress and ageing are responsible,” said Dr Emmanuel Pinteaux who led the research.

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