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Is the Pope's Parkinson's to Blame for Illness?

Experts Analyze the Impact of Parkinson's Disease on the Pope's Current Condition

Speculation Premature continued...

"I think there has been way too much speculation about this," he says. "For any 84-year-old who isn't in very good health, having the flu can be a very serious event on its own. In the pope's case it could be just a matter of trying to do too much too soon after his last hospital stay."

Symptoms that are characteristic of Parkinson'sSymptoms that are characteristic of Parkinson's include tremors, slowness of movement, stiffness, and gate and balance problems. Vitek says the symptoms can occur in any combination and any degree of severity.

Many patients also develop varying degrees of dementia with advanced disease, but the pope has shown no evidence of this in public appearances.

Can He Bounce Back?

If his Parkinson's is contributing to his current health crisis, just what are the chances that the pope will recover? Nirenberg characterizes his long-term prognosis as "very concerning," in part, because his health has been poor for so long.

"Patient's don't die of Parkinson's disease," she says. "They die of medical complications of Parkinson's disease, and pneumoniapneumonia is a very common complication. There is certainly the potential for him to bounce back to where he was before this latest illness, but he would still be very ill."

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