Autonomic Dysfunction in Parkinson's Disease With and Without Deep Brain Stimulation - 10/20/2014

The Parkinson Alliance Reports Findings Pertaining to Autonomic Dysfunction in Parkinson’s

KINGSTON, N.J., October 20, 2014/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New findings from The Parkinson Alliance (PA) survey entitled “Autonomic Dysfunction in Parkinson’s Disease With and Without Deep Brain Stimulation” show that autonomic dysfunction was highly prevalent in Parkinson’s disease (PD), regardless of age and disease duration. The autonomic nervous system controls a number of functions in the body involving the cardiovascular system (i.e., blood pressure, heart rate), digestion, urination, sexual arousal, thermo-regulation (i.e., managing temperature sensitivity), pupillary functions (i.e., light sensitivity), and swallowing. Given that the topic of autonomic dysfunction is less known to people with PD, PA conducted a survey about autonomic dysfunction; 1,489 individuals with Parkinson’s participated, including 413 participants who underwent Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) and 1,076 individuals without DBS.

Results revealed that older adults and individuals with advanced disease yielded greater reports of autonomic dysfunction. There was a significant relationship between the experience of autonomic dysfunction and emotional well-being, and over half of the participants reported that autonomic disturbance adversely impacts engagement in social activities. As it relates to DBS and Non-DBS groups, there was not a significant difference between these groups for most autonomic symptom domains, with exception to significantly less cardiovascular symptoms and greater difficulties with swallowing for the DBS group when compared to the Non-DBS group.

"This research conducted by The Parkinson Alliance highlights the prevalence of autonomic dysfunction across age and disease duration for individuals with PD, and that autonomic symptoms have both social and psychological implications,” said Jeffrey Wertheimer, Ph.D., ABPP-CN, clinical neuropsychologist and Chief Research Consultant for The Parkinson Alliance. Wertheimer added, “Autonomic symptoms are commonly underassessed and undertreated for people with PD. This study has a large number of participants and underscores the importance of people with Parkinson’s keeping their doctor/treatment team informed about the experience of autonomic symptoms. Early identification of risk factors, careful diagnosis, and early intervention may have a favorable impact on symptom management and health related quality of life.”

Study results can be found on

About The Parkinson Alliance
The Parkinson Alliance is a national non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for Parkinson’s research and improving the quality of life in the DBS community. After undergoing bi-lateral DBS in 2000, Margaret Tuchman, President of PA, founded to keep the community informed.

Aurore Duboille
DBS Research Coordinator

The Parkinson Alliance