Researchers in the Netherlands have identified risk factors that are associated with a higher Parkinson’s disease-related mortality in a new study published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases characterized by slow movement, muscle weakness, rigidity, and tremors. It is linked to higher overall death at approximately 1.5 times increased risk compared to the general population. However, the factors that contribute to Parkinson’s disease-related mortality have not been well identified and remain largely unclear.
In order to fill this gap in knowledge in Parkinson’s disease, researchers in Netherlands conducted a study evaluating Parkinson’s related mortality in newly diagnosed Parkinson’s patients who were then followed up for a minimum of thirteen years or until death. The study included 129 patients for analysis with an average follow-up period of ten years. Most of the patients in the study were already taking levodopa, a standard treatment in Parkinson’s disease.
The researchers found that an early onset of Parkinson’s disease, higher use of levodopa, and mild cognitive impairment early on were all independent factors related to an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease-related mortality. Factors such as male gender or severity of parkinsonian impairment did not appear to contribute specifically to Parkinson’s disease-related mortality.
Although the researchers observed the use of levodopa as being a risk factor for Parkinson’s disease-related mortality, they do not suggest that the use of levodopa is harmful to patients. Instead, they postulate that it is the progressive motor impairment in Parkinson’s disease that results in the early use of levodopa treatment and the increased mortality. Further, the researchers caution that the study’s findings should not be applied to individuals as their study is a population-based observational study. They stress that there are many individual differences among Parkinson’s patients that could affect life expectancy.
The researchers conclude that the study adds value to the understanding of Parkinson’s disease-related mortality. Future studies may help to allow better estimation and prediction of the risk factors associated with increased mortality in Parkinson’s patients.
Written by Maggie Leung, PharmD
Hoogland, J., Post, B., & Bie, R. M. D. (2019). Overall and Disease Related Mortality in Parkinson’s Disease – a Longitudinal Cohort Study. Journal of Parkinsons Disease, 9(4), 767–774. doi: 10.3233/jpd-191652
Researchers report new insights into Parkinson’s disease-related mortality. (2019, November 8). Retrieved from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-11/ip-rrn110819.php.
Image by Raman Oza from Pixabay