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Keywords:

  • idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD);
  • phenotypic description;
  • disease progression;
  • etiology;
  • population-based study

Abstract

There is considerable variation in the phenotypic appearance of individuals with idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD), which may translate into differences in disease progression in addition to underlying disease etiology. In this publication, we report on the demographic and clinical characteristics of 162 individuals diagnosed with clinically probable PD from January 1998 to June 2003 who resided in predominantly rural communities in central California. The majority of the subjects were Caucasian, male, and between 60 and 79 years of age. The akinetic–rigid and tremor-dominant subtypes were more common than the mixed subtype. The majority of subjects displayed motor signs of rigidity (92.0%), bradykinesia (95.7%), and gait problems (87.0%), whereas less than half (43.3%) of the subjects displayed a tremor. Three fourths of patients received a Hoehn and Yahr Scale score of Stage 2 or higher. One third of the patients were treated with levodopa, and patients under 60 years of age were more likely to be treated with dopamine agonists. Within 3 years after first diagnosis, 13% of subjects showed some signs of depression and 17% of subjects met criteria for mild dementia. Among our subjects, 17.3% reported a family history of PD in first- or second-degree relatives,15.4% a family history of essential tremor, and 14.2% of Alzheimer's disease. This study represents the most extensive phenotypic description of rural U.S. residents in the initial stages of PD who were recruited in a population-based manner; future follow-up may provide valuable information regarding the prognostic indication of these symptoms/signs and improve our understanding of the underlying etiology of PD. © 2005 Movement Disorder Society