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Patients With Early Parkinson's Exhibit Sleepiness, Hallucinations

Gender, age, overall health key factors identifying those at risk, study finds

WEDNESDAY, July 11, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Factors such as gender, age and overall health may help predict which people with early Parkinson's disease will experience hallucinations, sleepiness or swelling, a new study says.

These symptoms are reported more frequently by people with early Parkinson's disease than the general population, the study authors said.

"By identifying risk factors, it may help guide treatment decisions, allow for early intervention and possibly reduce disability," study author Dr. Kevin Biglan, a physician at the University of Rochester (N.Y.) School of Medicine, said in a prepared statement.

Biglan and his team analyzed data from a four-year clinical trial involving 301 people who had early Parkinson's disease. None of the participants reported hallucinations at the beginning of the study.

One out of five people in the study developed hallucinations. More than one out of three developed sleepiness, and almost one out of two developed swelling within four years of starting treatment with either levodopa or pramipexole.

"In contrast to other studies, we found being male, having multiple health problems and taking pramipexole were independently associated with developing sleepiness," Biglan said in the prepared statement. "This is the first time a patient's other health problems have been identified as a risk factor for drowsiness."

Writing in the July issue of Neurology, the researchers noted that being older, having multiple health problems and the presence of slight memory problems were associated with an increased risk of hallucinations. The medications did not affect the risk of hallucinations.

Being female, having heart disease and pramipexole treatment were associated with an increased risk of swelling, the researchers said.

The findings are published in the July issue of Neurology.

More information

To learn about efforts to cure Parkinson's disease, visit the Parkinson's Disease Foundation.

SOURCE: Neurology, news release, July 9, 2007
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