Several important studies, including a very new one, have concluded that poor cardiovascular health may be linked to an increased risk for Parkinson’s disease…but that’s not all.
➡ The research indicates that abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood glucose (sugar) readings were linked to an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
But here’s the thing: The reverse is also true:
➡ People living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) are twice as likely as the general population to develop heart disease, and they have a 50% greater chance of dying from it.
To come to these conclusions, researchers used data from over 17 million people over 40 years of age and found 44,000+ cases of Parkinson’s over the 5-year follow-up in people with heart disease.
- And, they also found many cases of heart disease which correlated to the onset and progression of Parkinson’s.
The study specifically looked for the five cardiovascular risk factors that define what we call “Metabolic Syndrome.”
Indicators of metabolic syndrome (often used to find diabetes risk or to diagnose it) include:
- Abdominal obesity
- High triglycerides
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- High blood glucose (sugar) readings
They found that each part of the metabolic syndrome such as:
- Alcohol consumption
- Physical Activity (Lack of)
- Body Mass Index
- History of Stroke
“Significantly increased the risk for Parkinson’s disease.”
The more risk factors a person had, the greater the risk.
➡ Compared with having none of the risk factors, having all five was associated with a 66% increased risk for Parkinson’s disease.
➡ The correlation was especially strong for people over the age of 65.
The reverse is also true:
➡ People living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) are twice as likely as the general population to develop cardiovascular disease, and they have a 50% greater chance of dying from it.
Cardiovascular disease, also called heart disease, includes conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to complications such as:
- Heart attacks – when blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked
- Strokes – when blood flow to the brain gets blocked due to a blood clot (ischemic stroke) or when a blood vessel bursts in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke)
- Heart failure, or congestive heart failure – where the heart isn’t pumping blood as well as it should and the body’s need for blood and oxygen is compromised
- Arrhythmia – an abnormal rhythm of the heart, which could be too slow (bradycardia), too fast (tachycardia), or irregular, and may cause the heart to not pump enough blood to the body
- Heart valve problems – problems with the valves include when the valves in the heart don’t open enough to allow blood to flow through (stenosis) and when the valve leaflets bulge or slip back into the upper chamber (mitral valve prolapse).
- This comprehensive study also showed that people with Parkinson’s who have a high or medium risk of heart disease tend to have more problems with walking and memory.
What to do?
If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease:
➡ Make sure your physician has experience with heart disease….ASK him/her how experienced they are with this correlation. This was a huge study, they should know about it.
➡ Likewise, if you’ve been diagnosed with any form of cardiovascular disease, have your physician assess your risk for Parkinson’s and order the necessary blood tests and scans to decide his/her course of action.
Remember all the warnings we grew up hearing such as:
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” (Benjamin Franklin)?
The modern-day version of that is “Be Proactive.” Not many like that term, but hey, it works.
➡ Learn about your personal conditions, albeit Parkinson’s or Heart Disease, study what things, foods, events, etc. affect them positively and negatively
➡ Keep your Doctors’ appointments
AND: ➡ Have your list of questions for your physician prepared in advance of your visit…
Then, talk and listen. Listen and talk. No one knows your body better than you. Tell them I said so.