Objectives: To identify the cause of death in patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease (IPD).
Background: Current literature provides little data relating to cause of death in IPD and much is based on the recording of IPD on death certificates.
Methods: All patients under the care of a Parkinson's disease (PD) service who had died between 1999 and 2006 inclusive were identified and further classified into those with IPD according to the UK PD Society Brain Bank Criteria. Details were extracted from the service database and medical notes and further information obtained from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Corrections were made for data classified using the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) 9 classification (prior to 2001) in order to compare accurately with data classified using ICD 10. Trends in cause of death were identified. Comparative data was obtained from the ONS for a control population.
Results: Of 219 patients on the database who had died, 143 were identified as having IPD. They were more likely to be classified as dying from pneumonia, and less likely as malignancy or ischaemic heart disease, than the control population. Pneumonia was a terminal event in 45%. IPD was recorded on the death certificate in only 63% of patients.
Conclusion: As expected, pneumonia is very often the terminal event. As previously demonstrated, malignancy is uncommon. Death certificate documentation is inadequate in one third of certificates; this has implications for research.