Epilepsy and hearing loss may be risk factors for Parkinson's

11 Mar 2022

A team of researchers have found novel risk factors for Parkinson's which can be seen in people who go on to develop the condition up to a decade before diagnosis.

Part of the PREDICT-PD study, the paper published in JAMA Neurology, shared that symptoms such as tremors, cognitive difficulties, epilepsy, and hearing loss were present in people with Parkinson's up to ten years prior to their diagnosis.

The latter two were known to be more prevalent in those with Parkinson's; the study examined their associated risk factor and discovered that hearing loss was associated with a 66% increased chance of developing Parkinson's, while epilepsy increased a person’s risk by 2.5 times.

'Assessment of Risk Factors and Early Presentations of Parkinson Disease in Primary Care in a Diverse UK Population' looked 1 016 277 individuals from East London, 1055 of whom went on to develop Parkinson's, by analysing electronic primary healthcare records from over a million people living in East London between 1990 and 2018 to explore early symptoms and risk factors for Parkinson's.

In a press release, lead author, neurologist and PhD student Dr Christina Simonet encouraged primary care physicians to take note of the link between the conditions as a potential aid to earlier diagnosis of Parkinson's:

"Our results uncovered novel risk factors and early symptoms: epilepsy and hearing loss. Whilst previous research has hinted at the association, such as epilepsy being more prevalent in Parkinson's patients than in the general population, more research is now needed for us to fully understand the relationship.

In the meantime, it's important that primary care practitioners are aware of these links and understand how early the symptoms of Parkinson's can appear, so that patients can get a timely diagnosis and doctors can act early to help manage the condition."

To find out more, including additional findings cited, read the press release or the full paper online.

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