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Fewer Vascular Problems in Untreated Parkinson Patients

Results may highlight autonomic activity as a regulator of vascular disease

THURSDAY, May 4 (HealthDay News) -- Untreated patients with Parkinson disease are less likely to have vascular disorders including diabetes, hypertension and high serum lipids than patients without Parkinson disease, according to a report in the May issue of Stroke. The authors attribute this observation to impaired autonomic activity in Parkinson patients.

Giulio Scigliano, M.D., from the Istituto Nazionale Neurologico C. Besta in Milan, Italy, and colleagues conducted a retrospective case-controlled study of vascular disorders in 178 patients newly diagnosed with idiopathic Parkinson disease compared with 533 age- and sex-matched controls with other neurological diseases.

Compared with controls, patients with Parkinson disease were less likely to have diabetes or a history of smoking, and were less likely to have elevated blood pressure, blood glucose, serum cholesterol and triglycerides. For example, 3.4 percent of Parkinson patients had diabetes compared with 10.9 percent of controls; only 15.7 percent of Parkinson patients had hypertension compared with 25.1 percent of controls.

"Idiopathic Parkinson disease is a natural model of impaired hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity and generalized sympathetic denervation," the authors conclude. "We interpret the association of untreated idiopathic Parkinson disease with reduced vascular diseases risk factors as attributable to reduced autonomic activity, suggesting that autonomic hyperactivity may be involved in the pathogenesis of vascular disorders."

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