MIAMI and NEW YORK — Today we mourn the loss and celebrate the life of former President George H. W. Bush. He passed away at age 94, having lived with vascular parkinsonism for several years. Despite being confined to a motorized scooter or wheelchair, he battled his Parkinson’s-like symptoms with hope and determination, and even skydived years after his diagnosis to celebrate his 90th birthday.
About Vascular Parkinsonism
While vascular parkinsonism does not meet the criteria for true Parkinson’s disease (PD), it mimics many of its features. It is often due to problems with the vessels in the brain regions that control movement and small strokes are the primary cause. Although small strokes will cumulatively worsen the symptoms of vascular parkinsonism, it is otherwise not considered a progressive neurodegenerative disease like PD.
People with vascular parkinsonism often experience a “lower body parkinsonism” and have trouble with walking and maintaining balance — symptoms that President Bush reported having in various interviews prior to his passing. Generally, people with vascular PD are less likely to have the tremor of PD.
Because vascular parkinsonism and other conditions can mimic true PD, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis from a movement disorders specialist in order to best manage one’s disease. The Parkinson’s Foundation maintains a nationwide list of movement disorder specialists and encourages you to call 1-800-4PD-INFO (473-4636) or email email@example.com to find one in your area.