Comparing clinical features of young onset, middle onset and late onset Parkinson's disease

Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2014 May;20(5):530-4. doi: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2014.02.013. Epub 2014 Feb 22.


Background: Parkinson's disease (PD) affects 1-2% of the population over 65 years. There is evidence that the clinical features differ with age at symptom onset, but published information is scarce.

Methods: We reviewed the charts of 593 PD patients and divided them into young onset (≤49 years), middle onset (50-69 years) and late onset (≥70 years) groups. Data collected included age at symptom onset, year of onset, family history of Parkinson's disease in first and second degree relatives, predominant first symptom, first anti parkinsonian medication prescribed, frequency of levodopa-induced dyskinesia, therapy related dystonia, therapy related gastrointestinal side effects, hallucination, dementia, depression and apathy.

Results: The middle onset was the largest group (51%), followed by the late onset (39%) and the young onset (10%) groups. Young onset patients had a more frequent family history of Parkinson's disease and a longer survival. Symptoms other than tremor were more frequent as the initial symptom of the young onset group, and the frequency of tremor as the first symptom increased with advancing age at onset. Depression was more frequent in the young onset group. The frequency of treatment related dyskinesia or dystonia decreased with advancing age at onset.

Conclusion: We have identified specific clinical differences in Parkinson's disease related to the patient's age at onset and added to the existing knowledge of the variability of disease presentation. We suggest an age of onset of 49 years or less for the definition of young onset PD.

Keywords: Age at onset; Parkinson; Young onset.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Age of Onset*
  • Aged
  • Antiparkinson Agents / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Levodopa / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease* / diagnosis
  • Parkinson Disease* / epidemiology
  • Parkinson Disease* / therapy
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Antiparkinson Agents
  • Levodopa