Dementia May Greatly Reduce Survival in Parkinson's Disease. (Depression Doesn't Raise Mortality)

Article excerpt

DENVER -- The development of dementia in patients with Parkinson's disease is associated with a two- to threefold increased risk of mortality, Dr. Karen Marder said at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology

This sharply increased risk of mortality is independent of Parkinson's disease severity, added Dr. Marder of Columbia University, New York. In contrast, psychiatric disorders commonly seen in patients with Parkinson's disease--sustained depression and hallucinations--does not increase mortality in this population.

Neurologists have known for years that onset of dementia in Parkinson's heralds reduced survival; but since dementia typically occurs in advanced disease, it was unclear whether increased mortality was related to dementia or to worsening motor symptoms, she said.

Dr. Marder and her coinvestigators prospectively followed 180 Parkinson's disease patients, all of whom were nondemented at baseline. At each annual comprehensive evaluation, they were assessed for signs of dementia and their severity of motor symptoms was rated using the standardized Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS). …