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Dementia of Parkinson's Similar to Alzheimer's

Both show equal decline in cognitive function each year

TUESDAY, Dec. 14, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- People with Parkinson's disease and dementia experience a similar average annual decline in cognitive function as people with Alzheimer's disease do, says a Norwegian study in the December issue of the Archives of Neurology.

The article noted that dementia is common among people with Parkinson's disease, but few studies have examined the rate of cognitive decline in Parkinson's patients. Dementia in Parkinson's patients is associated with a rapid decrease in motor and functional ability, higher death rates, and greater caregiver stress.

Researchers compared the results of Mini-Mental State Examinations (a cognitive function test) of Parkinson's patients, Alzheimer's patients, and people without dementia. The study subjects were assessed on their initial visit and again four and eight years later.

Overall, the average score at the initial assessment was 27.3 and the average annual decline over eight years was 1.1 points (3.9 percent).

People with Parkinson's had an annual decline over the first four years of 2.3 points (9.1 percent), compared with 2.6 points (10.6 percent) among Alzheimer's patients.

Parkinson's patients who were older and who suffered hallucinations and severe motor symptoms at the initial assessment were much more likely to suffer a rapid cognitive decline than other Parkinson's patients.

More information

The National Parkinson Foundation has more about Parkinson's disease.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Dec. 13, 2004
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