Abnormal Sleep Predicts Later Neurodegeneration

Patients with idiopathic REM sleep behavior may have an increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease, dementia

TUESDAY, Dec. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Idiopathic REM sleep behavior disorder is a substantial risk factor for the development of neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia, according to study findings published online Dec. 24 in Neurology.

Ronald B. Postuma, M.D., of Montreal General Hospital in Quebec, Canada, and colleagues conducted a follow-up study of 93 patients who had been diagnosed with idiopathic REM sleep behavior disorder between 1989 and 2006. Patients had been referred to a sleep disorders laboratory to evaluate abnormal sleep behaviors. The mean patient age was 65.4 years, and 80.4 percent were male.

During the follow-up period, 26 of 93 patients developed a neurodegenerative disorder, the investigators found. Of these, 15 patients developed parkinsonism and 11 developed dementia. The estimated five-, 10- and 12-year risk of developing either parkinsonism or dementia was 17.7 percent, 40.6 percent and 52.4 percent, respectively, the report indicates. The researchers note that a linear regression analysis showed the risk of developing a neurodegenerative disease remained constant during the follow-up period.

"Although we have found a slightly lower risk than other reports, the risk of developing neurodegenerative disease in idiopathic REM sleep behavior disorder is substantial, with the majority of patients developing Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia," the authors conclude.

One study author reports financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.

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