The recent death of former president George HW Bush from vascular parkinsonism led many to question the difference between the condition and Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinsonism is the umbrella term for conditions that mimic symptoms similar to those experienced by people living with Parkinson’s. Vascular parkinsonism can occur in people who have experienced a mild stroke, or have restricted blood supply to the brain. The condition causes symptoms similar to Parkinson’s – including rigidity, difficulties walking and problems with speech and memory.
While the symptoms of the two conditions are similar, vascular parkinsonism is not considered a progressive neurodegenerative disease.
Dr Michael Okun, professor of neurology at the University of Florida, said: “It can be tricky to differentiate Parkinson’s disease from vascular parkinsonism (due to stroke(s)). Many experts refer to stroke induced parkinsonism as lower body parkinsonism because it tends to affect the legs more than the arms. In practice the differentiation can be tricky and sometimes both entities actually coexist.”