People with Parkinson’s more likely to die from COVID-19

October 16, 2020

New analysis based on patient data in the TriNetX COVID-19 research network in the US suggests that patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) disease have a higher risk of dying from COVID-19. According to neurologists Qiang Zhang and Nandakumar Narayanan at the University of Iowa Health Care (UI), at least 21.3% of COVID-19 patients with PD died compared to 5.5% of COVID-19 patients without PD.

Using conditional logistic regression with age, sex, and race as covariates, they matched each PD patient with five non-PD patients with the exact age, sex, and race. The risk of dying from COVID-19 was found to be 30% higher for patients with PD. These PD patients were generally older, more likely to be male, and less likely to be African American than the patients without PD. All of these factors also increase the risk of death from COVID-19.

“[…] we are confident that these data show that Parkinson’s disease is independent risk factor for death in COVID-19,” said Narayanan. “We believe this observation will be of interest to clinicians treating patients with Parkinson’s disease, and public health officials.”

A potential reason why PD patients have an increased risk of death from COVID-19 may be related to the fact that the coronavirus can cause severe pneumonia which is a leading cause of death in patients with PD. The finding should therefore inform patients with PD, and their physicians, of the increased importance of preventing COVID-19 infection in these patients.

“We are all focused on COVID right now, but this is a clear example of a respiratory illness that leads to increased mortality [in PD patients]. These findings may also have implications for understanding risks for PD patients from other diseases, including influenza.

“I would recommend a flu vaccine and pneumonia vaccine to try to prevent these problems in patients with PD,” Narayanan added.


Category: Features, Health alert

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