Mild parkinsonian signs are associated with increased risk of dementia in a prospective, population-based study of elders

Mov Disord. 2010 Jan 30;25(2):172-8. doi: 10.1002/mds.22943.


There is some evidence that mild parkinsonian signs (MPSs) are associated with increased risk of dementia, suggesting that MPS could be an early biomarker for dementia. Our aims, in a new cohort, were to determine whether (1) baseline MPS are a predictor of incident dementia and (2) there is an interaction between MPS and other baseline risk factors for dementia (i.e., the presence of both together greatly elevates the risk of dementia) was the objective. In a prospective, longitudinal study of community-dwelling elders in northern Manhattan, NY, Parkinsonian signs were rated with an abbreviated Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale. Risk of incident dementia was assessed using Cox proportional hazards models. There were 1,851 participants (mean follow-up = 3.7 years). Participants with baseline MPS were twice as likely to develop dementia as participants without MPS: 16.3% versus 7.7%, unadjusted hazards ratio (HR) = 2.24 (P< 0.001), adjusted HR = 1.98 (P < 0.001). MPS were divided into three subtypes: adjusted HR(axial dysfunction) = 2.45 (P < 0.001), adjusted HR(tremor) = 2.38 (P = 0.006), and adjusted HR(rigidity) = 1.16 (P = 0.58). When MPS were treated as a continuous variable, the adjusted HR = 1.15 (P = 0.001). There were no interactions between MPS and other baseline risk factors for dementia, including gender, education, race, family history of dementia, stroke, and apolipoprotein E-e4. Baseline MPS seems to be a predictor of incident dementia. These motor signs might, therefore, serve as a useful biomarker for emerging dementia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Dementia / diagnosis
  • Dementia / epidemiology*
  • Dementia / etiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Muscle Rigidity / physiopathology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Parkinson Disease / complications*
  • Parkinson Disease / epidemiology*
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*
  • Population Groups
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tremor / physiopathology