Epilepsy and hearing loss both appear to be among the earliest signs that someone may develop Parkinson’s disease, according to a British study conducted on a large and diverse population by a team of scientists from the Queen Mary University of London. The study was published in the scientific journal JAMA Neurology.
The analysis shows that among the symptoms best known to be associated with Parkinson’s disease, including tremors and memory problems, epilepsy, and hearing loss are also early signs of the disease. This finding may have been made possible by the large sample of patients included in the study, who were from minority or socially disadvantaged groups the types of patients that are usually underrepresented in scientific studies.
The study analyzed the electronic health records of more than one million people who lived in East London between 1990 and 2018 to look for early symptoms and risk factors for Parkinson’s disease.
The researchers point out that certain diseases, including high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, are known to be associated with an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. However, the prevalence of these diseases may be different in less advantaged groups. The researchers also found a stronger link between memory complaints in these populations.
“This is the first study of the pre-diagnostic phase of Parkinson’s disease in such a diverse population with a high socioeconomic disadvantage but universal access to health care. Therefore, this study has given us a more complete picture of the disease,” said lead author Dr. Cristina Simonet, a neurologist at Queen Mary University.
Epilepsy and hearing loss are thus identified as possible predictive markers for Parkinson’s disease which is in line with previous studies that have shown a higher prevalence of these two conditions in Parkinson’s patients.
“It is important that primary care physicians are aware of these links and understand when symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may appear so that they can make a timely diagnosis and act quickly to control the disease.
Always with the same principle: If we can diagnose Parkinson’s disease early, we have a real chance to intervene early and offer treatments that will greatly improve patients’ quality of life.”