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뇌졸중으로 착각 다반사, 유전 수명과는 거의 무관 파킨슨병
-강남세브란스-신경과 이명식 교수

11일은 세계 파킨슨병의 날이다. 권투선수 무하마드 알리와 영화 '백 투 더 퓨처'의 주연 마이클 J 폭스 등이 앓으면서 널리 알려진 질환이다.

파킨슨병은 고령인구의 급속한 증가로 크게 늘고 있지만 인식도가 낮아 뇌졸중 등 엉뚱한 질환으로 오인되기도 한다. 파킨슨병에 대한 인식을 높이기 위해 12일 서울과 부산에서 환자와 의사가 함께하는 걷기대회도 열린다.

대한파킨슨병 및 이상운동질환학회(회장 이명식 강남세브란스병원 신경과 교수)의 도움말로 파킨슨병에 대한 오해와 진실을 알아본다.

▲ 고칠 수 없다?


파킨슨병은 퇴행성 뇌 질환 중 거의 유일하게 치료로써 일상생활을 할 수 있을 만큼 몸 동작을 정상에 가깝게 유지할 수 있다. 약물과 수술, 물리 치료를 하는데 가장 기본적인 것은 약물치료다.


동작을 원활하게 하기 위해 필요한 신경전달물질이 환자의 뇌 안에 부족해 외부에서 공급해 줘야 하기 때문에 약을 평생 먹어야 한다. 병 진행속도는 개인차가 심하지만, 조기 치료하면 생활의 질이 개선되고 수명을 연장할 수 있다.

▲ 수명을 단축시킨다?

레보도파가 개발되기 전까지는 파킨슨병에 걸리면 수명이 줄었다. 그러나 레보도파, 도파민 작용제, 도파민 분해 억제제 등과 같은 약이 널리 쓰이면서 파킨슨병은 더 이상 수명에 영향을 거의 주지 않게 됐다.

▲ 노인에게만 생긴다?

파킨슨병에 걸리는 나이는 평균 60세다. 하지만 이 평균 나이가 노인에게만 파킨슨병이 발생한다는 뜻은 아니다. 환자의 80% 정도는 40~70세에 발병하고 5% 정도는 30~40세에 걸린다.

▲ 유전된다?

파킨슨병이 유전으로 생기는 경우는 흔하지 않다. 일란성 쌍둥이를 대상으로 한 연구에 따르면 유전 요인은 거의 없는 것으로 알려져 있다. 다만 젊은 나이에 발병한 경우 유전 성향이 있는 것으로 나타났다. 형제, 자매에서 동시에 파킨슨병에 걸렸어도 이는 흔한 질환이어서 우연히 생겼을 가능성이 높다.

▲ 뇌졸중과 같다?

파킨슨병 이외에도 뇌 이상에 의해 몸과 행동이 둔해지고 손이 떨리는 병이 많다. 일부 뇌졸중 환자는 사지마비가 되지 않고 걸음과 행동이 느려져 파킨슨병으로 잘못 진단되기도 한다.

102명의 파킨슨병 환자를 조사한 결과, 환자 절반은 한의원에 먼저 갔고, 절반은 병원을 먼저 찾은 것으로 나타났다. 한의원에 먼저 찾아간 사람은 대부분 뇌졸중 진단을 받았고, 파킨슨병 진단을 받을 때까지 3곳의 의료기관을 거쳤다.

▲ 운전하면 안 된다?

파킨슨병으로 진단을 받아도 당장 자동차 운전을 그만 둬야 할 필요는 없다. 그러나 이 병이 안전하게 운전하는 능력을 크게 떨어뜨릴 수 있다는 점을 알아야 한다. 따라서 되도록 운전하지 않는 것이 현명하다. 병의 증상과 징후는 사람마다 차이가 크므로 의사와 상의해 결정하는 것이 중요하다.

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