There is little information on the late stages of parkinsonism.
We conducted a multicentre study in 692 patients with late stage parkinsonism in six European countries. Inclusion criteria were disease duration of ≥7 years and either Hoehn and Yahr stage ≥4 or Schwab and England score of 50 or less.
Average disease duration was 15.4 (SD 7.7) years and mean total UPDRS score was 82.7 (SD 22.4). Dementia according to MDS-criteria was present in 37% of patients. Mean levodopa equivalence dose was 874.1 (SD 591.1) mg/d. Eighty two percent of patients reported falls, related to freezing (16%) or unrelated to freezing (21% of patients) or occurring both related and unrelated to freezing (45%), and were frequent in 26%. Moderate-severe difficulties were reported for turning in bed by 51%, speech by 43%, swallowing by 16% and tremor by 11%. Off-periods occurred in 68% and were present at least 50% of the day in 13%, with morning dystonia occurring in 35%. Dyskinesias were reported by 45% but were moderate or severe only in 7%. Moderate-severe fatigue, constipation, urinary symptoms and nocturia, concentration and memory problems were encountered by more than half of participants. Hallucinations (44%) or delusions (25%) were present in 63% and were moderate-severe in 15%. The association with overall disability was strongest for severity of falls/postural instability, bradykinesia, cognitive score and speech impairment.
These data suggest that current treatment of late stage parkinsonism in the community remains insufficiently effective to alleviate disabling symptoms in many patients.
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