Study says life span normal when Parkinson's does not affect thinking

October 31, 2018, American Academy of Neurology
Immunohistochemistry for alpha-synuclein showing positive staining (brown) of an intraneural Lewy-body in the Substantia nigra in Parkinson's disease. Credit: Wikipedia

In the past, researchers believed that Parkinson's disease did not affect life expectancy. But recent studies showed a somewhat shorter life span. Now a new study suggests that when the disease does not affect thinking skills early on, life span is not affected. The study is published in the October 31, 2018, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"This is good news for many people with Parkinson's and their families," said study author David Bäckström, MD, of Umeå University in Umeå, Sweden.

The study looked at people with Parkinson's and other types of parkinsonism, such as and . People with those two disorders had the shortest , with a mortality rate that was more than three times higher than for the general population.

The study involved 182 people who were newly diagnosed with parkinsonism and were followed for up to 13.5 years. Of the participants, 143 had Parkinson's disease, 18 had progressive supranuclear palsy and 13 had multiple system atrophy. At the start of the study and at least once a year, the participants were tested for Parkinson's symptoms and memory and thinking skills. During the study, 109 of the people died.

People with problems with memory and thinking skills, or mild cognitive impairment, at the beginning of the study were 2.4 times more likely to die during the study than people who did not have memory and thinking problems. Bäckström said that assuming that the average age at the start of the study was about 71 for people with Parkinson's disease, the expected survival for people with no mild cognitive impairment was 11.6 years, compared to 8.2 years for those with .

A total of 54 percent of those with Parkinson's disease died during the study, compared to 89 percent of those with progressive supranuclear palsy and 92 percent of those with multiple system atrophy.

Bäckström said that assuming the average age at the start of the study was about 72 for people with all types of parkinsonism, the expected survival for people with Parkinson's disease was 9.6 years and 6.1 years for people with progressive supranuclear palsy and multiple system atrophy.

Other factors early in the disease that were associated with a shorter life span were having freezing of gait, where people are briefly unable to walk, and a loss of the sense of smell.

A limitation of the study was that autopsies were used to confirm the diagnoses in only five of the 109 people who died, so there may have been some who were diagnosed incorrectly.

Explore further: Blood test may help differentiate Parkinson's from similar diseases

Related Stories

Blood test may help differentiate Parkinson's from similar diseases

February 8, 2017
A simple blood test may be as accurate as a spinal fluid test when trying to determine whether symptoms are caused by Parkinson's disease or another atypical parkinsonism disorder, according to a new study published in the ...

Simple test may help predict long-term outcome after stroke

October 17, 2018
A simple test taken within a week of a stroke may help predict how well people will have recovered up to three years later, according to a study published in the October 17, 2018, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal ...

What is survival among patients with Parkinson, Dementia with lewy bodies?

May 15, 2017
A new article published by JAMA Neurology compares survival rates among patients with synucleinopathies, including Parkinson disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinson disease dementia and multiple system atrophy with ...

Link between IBD and Parkinson's might allow doctors to slow down condition

May 21, 2018
Doctors may be able to modify or slow down the progress of the neurological condition Parkinson's disease in the future by spotting signs of it in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), suggest a study published ...

Lack of brain shrinkage may help predict who develops dementia with Lewy bodies

November 2, 2016
Dementia with Lewy bodies is a progressive disease that causes hallucinations, decline in mental abilities, rigid muscles, slow movement and tremors. With symptoms similar to Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, a ...

People with depression may be more likely to develop Parkinson's disease

May 20, 2015
People with depression may be more likely to develop Parkinson's disease, according to a large study published in the May 20, 2015, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Recommended for you

The puzzle of a mutated gene lurking behind many Parkinson's cases

November 15, 2018
Genetic mutations affecting a single gene play an outsized role in Parkinson's disease. The mutations are generally responsible for the mass die-off of a set of dopamine-secreting, or dopaminergic, nerve cells in the brain ...

Researchers find inhibiting one protein destroys toxic clumps seen in Parkinson's disease

November 14, 2018
A defining feature of Parkinson's disease is the clumps of alpha-synuclein protein that accumulate in the brain's motor control area, destroying dopamine-producing neurons. Natural processes can't clear these clusters, known ...

Scalpel-free surgery enhances quality of life for Parkinson's patients, study finds

November 9, 2018
A high-tech form of brain surgery that replaces scalpels with sound waves improved quality of life for people with Parkinson's disease that has resisted other forms of treatment, a new study has found.

Singing may reduce stress, improve motor function for people with Parkinson's disease

November 7, 2018
Singing may provide benefits beyond improving respiratory and swallow control in people with Parkinson's disease, according to new data from Iowa State University researchers.

Scientists overturn odds to make Parkinson's discovery

November 7, 2018
Scientists at the University of Dundee have confirmed that a key cellular pathway that protects the brain from damage is disrupted in Parkinson's patients, raising the possibility of new treatments for the disease.

Road to cell death more clearly identified for Parkinson's disease

November 1, 2018
In experiments performed in mice, Johns Hopkins researchers report they have identified the cascade of cell death events leading to the physical and intellectual degeneration associated with Parkinson's disease.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.