Covid-19 patients with Parkinson's disease have 30% higher risk of death: Study

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on October 02, 2020

People with Parkinson's disease (PD) are at a higher risk of death from Covid-19, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Iowa Health Care.

According to the study which was based on analysis of the data of over 80,000 patients, people with PD have a 30 per cent higher risk of dying from Covid-19.

The study has been published in the journal Movement Disorders.

According to the analysis, 4,290 out of 78,355 of Covid-19 patients (5.5 per cent) without PD died, compared to 148 of 694 (21.3 per cent) Covid-19 patients who also had PD.

“However, the patients with PD were generally older, more likely to be male, and less likely to be African American than the patients without PD. All of these factors also increase the risk of death from Covid-19,” the report said.

The researchers used two approaches to account for these differences: “logistic regression with age, sex, and race as covariates, and matching each PD patient with five non-PD patients with the exact age, sex, and race, and performing a conditional logistic regression.”

In both cases, the team found that the risk of dying from the disease was 30 per cent higher if the patients suffered from PD.

"We recognize the limitations of this study; it is retrospective data from a single database, but we are confident that these data show that Parkinson's disease is an independent risk factor for death in Covid-19," said Nandakumar Narayanan, UI associate professor of neurology and a member of the Iowa Neuroscience Institute. "We believe this observation will be of interest to clinicians treating patients with Parkinson's disease, and public health officials."

One of the reasons why patients suffering from PD are at an increased risk of death is that Covid-19 can cause pneumonia which is a leading cause of death in patients with PD. This is partly because Parkinson's patients can have trouble swallowing or choking that can cause aspiration.

"We are all focused on COVID right now, but this is a clear example of a respiratory illness that leads to increased mortality [in PD patients]. These findings may also have implications for understanding risks for PD patients from other diseases, including influenza," Narayanan said. "I would recommend a flu vaccine and pneumonia vaccine to try to prevent these problems in patients with PD."

Published on October 02, 2020

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