Introduction: After the introduction of L-dopa the mortality rate in Parkinson's disease (PD) patients has changed, but is still higher than in the background population.
Material & methods: Mortality, age at death and cause of death in a group of PD patients compared with the background population were studied. The diagnosis on the death certificate were registered. The material consisted of 458 patients who in a period 1.4.1973-31.10.1991 were registered as having PD.
Results: Death in the period amounted to 253 patients. Median age of death was 77.29 years for men and 79.11 years for women. In the background population the median age at death was 80.69 years for men and 84.37 years for women. The SMR for men was 1.92 and for women 2.47. Infections, in particular lung infections, and heart diseases were the most common causes of death. Seventy percent of the death certificates had PD as a diagnosis.
Conclusion: It is likely that several factors can influence the changed mortality of PD: more effective treatment, changing diagnostic practice, and inter-disease competition.