OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between vascular disease (and vascular risk factors), cognition and motor phenotype in Parkinson's disease (PD).
METHODS: Recently diagnosed PD cases were enrolled in a multicenter prospective observational longitudinal cohort study. Montreal cognitive assessment (normal >23, mild cognitive impairment 22 to 23 or lower but without functional impairment, and dementia 21 or less with functional impairment) and Movement Disorder Society Unified PD Rating Scale part 3 (UPDRS 3) scores were analyzed in relation to a history of vascular events and risk factors.
RESULTS: In 1759 PD cases, mean age 67.5 (standard deviation 9.3) years, mean disease duration 1.3 (standard deviation 0.9) years, 65.2% were men, 4.7% had a history of prior stroke or transient ischemic attack, and 12.5% had cardiac disease (angina, myocardial infarction, heart failure). In cases without a history of vascular disease, hypertension was recorded in 30.4%, high cholesterol 27.3%, obesity 20.7%, diabetes 7.2%, and cigarette smoking in 4.6%. Patients with prior stroke or transient ischemic attack were more likely to have cognitive impairment (42% vs 25%) and postural instability gait difficulty (53.5% vs 39.5%), but these findings were not significant after adjustment for age, sex, and disease duration (P = .075). The presence of more than 2 vascular risks was associated with worse UPDRS 3 motor scores (beta coefficient 4.05, 95% confidence interval 1.48, 6.61, p = .002) and with cognitive impairment (ordinal odds ratio 2.24, 95% confidence interval 1.34, 3.74, p = .002). In 842 patients (47.8%) with structural brain imaging, white matter leukoaraiosis, but not lacunar or territorial infarction, was associated with impaired cognition (p = .006) and postural instability gait difficulty (p = .010).
CONCLUSION: Vascular comorbidity is significantly associated with cognitive and gait impairment in patients with early PD, which may have prognostic and treatment implications.