Behind the Rumors: What is Parkinson’s Disease and How Does it Differ from Alzheimer’s?

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Concerns over President Joe Biden’s mental acuity and physical fitness have led to speculation about his potential diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease. The speculation was fueled by reports of neurologist Kevin Cannard, an expert in the disease, visiting the White House 10 times since 2022. The White House has denied that Cannard treated Biden during these visits, except for his annual physical.

Despite the denials, some are pointing to Cannard’s expertise in Parkinson’s as a potential indicator of Biden’s condition. Parkinson’s is a neurological disorder characterized by a range of symptoms, including tremors, stiffening of gait, and difficulty with facial expressions and speech.

The physical signs of Parkinson’s can be subtle, and the disease often progresses slowly. Parkinson’s-related dementia is also a possibility, caused by Lewy bodies in the brain. This can lead to cognitive impairment, including problems with problem-solving, mood, and memory.

Parkinson’s is different from Alzheimer’s, a different form of cognitive decline caused by the buildup of amyloid plaques in the brain. While both diseases can cause cognitive decline, Parkinson’s begins with mobility symptoms and may or may not progress to cognitive decline.

Other conditions, such as corticobasal degeneration and vascular dementia, can also share similar symptoms with Parkinson’s. Corticobasal degeneration affects mobility, coordination, and speech, while vascular dementia is caused by damage to blood vessels in the brain.

While speculation about President Biden’s health is rampant, the exact nature of his condition remains unclear.

Gabrielle M. Etzel
Gabrielle M. Etzel
Healthcare Reporter. Previously, Etzel served as a staff reporter at Campus Reform and as a freelance writer. After graduating from Grove City College, she earned her master's in public policy and administration from Baylor University, where she conducted research on domestic sex trafficking. In her free time, Etzel enjoys being with her family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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