Development of Dementia in Parkinson's Patients Associated with up to Three-Fold Increase in Mortality

Denver, Colo. – Independent of disease severity, as measured by signs of Parkinson''s disease found on examination (including tremor, stiffness, slowness and gait impairment), mortality may be two to three times higher among Parkinson''s disease patients who develop dementia than those who don''t. At the 54th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, researchers released findings of their study of 180 Parkinson''s disease patients, designed to investigate the independent effects of dementia and Parkinson''s severity on patient mortality. "Previous studies had shown dementia to be associated with reduced survival among Parkinson''s disease patients," said study author Karen Marder, MD, of Columbia University. "However we were unsure whether reduced survival was due to the fact that individuals with dementia were also the most severely affected in terms of the motor signs of Parkinson''s disease." This study, supported by the National Instititutes of Health and the Parkinson''s Disease Foundation, also revealed that patients who died during the four-year follow-up period were significantly older and had a higher Parkinson''s severity at baseline evaluation than those who were still living. Adjusting for age, gender, education and duration of disease, both incident dementia and disease severity were each independently associated with an increased risk of death. The risk of mortality associated with incident dementia was between two and three-fold. This risk was unchanged after adjusting for the development of hallucinations or depression.

The American Academy of Neurology is the world's largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals, with 34,000 members. The AAN is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit AAN.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Editor's Notes:Dr. Marder will present the research during a platform presentation on Thursday, April 18, 2002, at 1:30 a.m. in Room A 207/9 at the Colorado Convention Center. She will be available to answer media questions during a briefing on Thursday, April 18, 2002 at 9:00 a.m. in the AAN Press Room (Lobby C, Room 208) of the Convention Center.


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