Heart problems linked to dementia risk in Parkinson’s disease, say researchers


Author: Scarlett SherriffPublished: 30 June 2022

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sian young woman nurse at nursing home taking care of disabled senior elderly man on wheelchair. Therapist doctor measure heart rate by stethoscope on older patient. Medical insurance service concept

Researchers at the University of Turin, Italy, have identified that Parkinson’s-related cardiovascular problems may increase a patient’s risk of developing dementia within five years.

According to the study, it is estimated that more than half of people with Parkinson’s experience an impairment of the autonomic nervous system – which helps to regulate bodily functions such as blood pressure, body temperature, respiration and heart rate.

The researchers investigated the effects of this impairment on key functional Parkinson’s outcomes – including dementia, falls and postural instability – by observing 65 patients at the university’s movement disorders centre and following up after five years. Evaluations throughout the study assessed patients’ cognitive function, automatic symptoms and other motor and non-motor features.

In the findings, which were published in the ‘Journal of Neurology’, the researchers noted that worse cardiovascular assessment scores were “associated with a sevenfold higher risk of developing dementia”.

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