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Sen. Johnny Isakson diagnosed with Parkinson's

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson announced Wednesday he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
US Sen. Johnny Isakson

ATLANTA -- U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson announced Wednesday he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

In a statement released by his press office, Isakson said he received the diagnosis in 2013 after seeing a neurologist for stiffness in his left arm. He is in the early stages of the disease, which also affects his gait.

Isakson said Parkinson's disease will not impact his decision to run for reelection in 2016.

"I believe (Isakson) is fully capable of continuing to perform his duties as a U.S. Senator, and I believe he is fully capable of running for reelection and serving another term," Dr. Thomas m. Holmes, the physician who treats Isakson at Marietta Neurology and Headache Center.

Gov. Nathan Deal echoed Holmes' thoughts, saying, "In the 35 years that I've known Johnny Isakson, he has risen to meet -- and overcome -- every obstacle he's encountered with determination and a smile on his face. There's not a doubt in my mind that he and Diane will rise to meet this challenge. As he fights this battle, our distinguished senator will continue representing Georgians' conservative principles in Washington."

Read Sen. Isakson's entire statement:

"Over 1 million Americans have Parkinson's and I am one of them. I first went to see a neurologist in 2012 for stiffness in my left arm. I continued seeing the neurologist regularly to try to figure out the cause, and in 2013, I was diagnosed as having Parkinson's. I am in the early stages of the disease, and my main symptoms are the stiffness in my left arm and a slowed, shuffling gait. The recovery from the back surgery I had in October 2014 also has affected my gait. I have undergone rigorous physical therapy; I do exercises every morning and evening; and I take two Parkinson's medicines.

"While I am facing this health challenge head on, I have wrestled with whether to disclose it publicly. I recently shared the news with my three grown children and my senior staff a couple of months ago. Their support, along with the steadfast support of my wife Dianne, helped me to take this step today. In the end, I decided I should handle my personal health challenge with the same transparency that I have championed throughout my career.

"My diagnosis has not impacted my ability to represent the state of Georgia in the U.S. Senate. I am serving on five Senate committees and am the only Republican serving as chairman of two Senate committees. I am busier and have more responsibility today than ever before in my political career, and I couldn't be happier about that. I remain devoted to public service, to my state and to my constituents. I am eager to take my record of results to the voters of Georgia as I run for re-election in 2016."