San Diego – People with Parkinson disease are at increased risk of developing osteoporosis, according to research that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology 58th Annual Meeting in San Diego, Calif., April 1 – 8, 2006. Osteoporosis is the loss of bone mass that leads to increased risk of fractures.
The study of 166 Parkinson disease patients found that 51 percent of the female patients had osteoporosis; the rate of osteoporosis among women of the same age without Parkinson’s is about 25 percent. Among the males with Parkinson disease, 29 percent had osteoporosis, compared with about seven percent of men without Parkinson’s.
Large percentages of the Parkinson patients also had osteopenia, which is low bone mass that puts them at risk of developing osteoporosis. Of the women, 45 percent had low bone mass; 48 percent of the men had low bone mass.
Parkinson disease affects people’s gait, or manner of walking. The study found that people whose gait was affected also were more likely to have osteoporosis.
“Once people with Parkinson disease start having trouble with their gait, they should have a bone mass density scan to look for osteoporosis and get treatment if needed,” said study author and neurologist Mohammad Alhalabi of Damascus University in Syria. “Current guidelines do not list Parkinson’s disease as a risk factor for osteoporosis, but this study suggests that it should be included.”
Alhalabi suggests that the increased risk for osteoporosis could result from the decreased mobility people with Parkinson’s experience as the disease progresses. Exercise can help prevent osteoporosis.
“People with Parkinson disease also become more susceptible to falls, which can result in a higher risk of fractures,” Alhalabi said.
For the study, Alhalabi and his colleagues conducted bone mass density scans of all Parkinson patients (both newly diagnosed and already established patients) at the university over more than four years. Those with a known risk for abnormal bone mass were excluded from the study.
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 19,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, autism and multiple sclerosis.
For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit www.aan.com.
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Editor's Notes: Dr. Alhalabi will present this research during a scientific poster session at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4, in the Sails Pavilion of the San Diego Convention Center.
He will be available for media questions during a briefing at 5:00 p.m., Monday, April 3 in the on-site Press Interview Room, room 16 B. All listed times are for Pacific Time (PT).
AAN Press Room in the San Diego Convention Center April 1 - April 7, 2006 contact (619) 525-6207