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Parkinson’s Patients Who See Neurologist May Live Longer

A study of more than 100,000 people with Parkinson’s disease has found that patients may live longer if they see a neurologist for specialized care for their condition. The findings are reported online in the journal Neurology.

Lead author and Washington University neurologist Allison Wright Willis, MD, conducted the study by analyzing data on every patient on Medicare in 2002 with a new diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Of these 138,000 patients, 58 percent were seen by a neurologist between 2002 and 2005. The rest relied on primary care physicians for treatment.

In the six years following diagnosis, patients receiving care from a neurologist were 20 percent less likely to die than those seeing general practitioners. They were also 20 percent less likely to be placed in a nursing home and 14 percent less likely to break a hip.

Willis says one possible explanation for this effect is that neurologists have more experience dealing with Parkinson’s disease and the medications used to treat it.

Willis also speculates that additional experience dealing with Parkinson’s may help neurologists prevent or better manage Parkinson’s complications such as psychosis, fainting, thinking problems and infections, which are more common as Parkinson’s progresses.

Call 314-362-6908 for more information about Parkinson’s care.

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