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Anxiety Doubles Your Risk of Parkinson’s: What a New Study Shows

As the blockbuster animated film also explains very well Inside Out 2, anxiety is a very common feeling since puberty. The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 284 million people (3.6% of the world population) have experienced a disorder related to it, experiencing all the negative sensations that this entails.

If experienced sporadically and only in relation to certain circumstances, this state of mind can even be considered a useful spur to face the challenges that arise in everyday life, but most of the time it represents a emotional cage capable of doing a lot of damage, in the short and long term.

Among these, a new study published in the British Journal of General Practicehas identified a particularly significant one: After age 50, anxiety may play a key role in the development of Parkinson’sto the point of doubling the risk of its onset.

It was made known by researchers at UCL, University College Londonwhich using data from primary healthcare in the UK from 2008 to 2018, they compared the health status of 109,435 people who had developed anxiety after the age of 50, with 878,256 who had not suffered from this disorder.

At the end of the observation it emerged that in people with anxiety they were more often presentcompared to those without, symptoms considered prodromal of Parkinson’s such as sleep problems, depression, fatigue, constipation, cognitive impairment, tremor, stiffness and balance problems. Among those who suffered from anxiety, 331 people developed Parkinson’s disease during the follow-up period, with a median time to diagnosis after the first anxiety episode of approximately five years.

Even taking into account variables such as age, sex, social factors, lifestyle, serious mental illness, head trauma and dementia, the researchers concluded that the risk of Parkinson’s would be more than double in people with anxiety compared to those without.

Parkinson’s is a slowly progressive neurodegenerative diseasecaused by the death or deterioration of nerve cells in the part of the brain called the substantia nigra, which in turn leads to the loss of the ability to produce dopamine and the accumulation of a protein called alpha-synuclein. This process impairs the performance of certain functions, mainly movement and balance.

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“Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the world after Alzheimer’s. It currently affects approximately 10 million people and is estimated to affect 14.2 million by 2040,” said co-lead author Juan Bazo Alvarez.

In Italy, approximately 300,000 people live together. From the beginning of neuronal degeneration to the onset of motor symptoms (the most common of which are resting tremor, rigidity, slowness of automatic movements and, in the advanced stages, loss of balance) usually about 5 years pass.

There diagnosisin fact, it is often complex because it is based on a set of factors such as the patient’s clinical history, neurological and instrumental examinations, and this is also why the results of the new study were greeted with enthusiasm. “It is known that anxiety is a characteristic of the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, but before our study, the prospective risk of Parkinson’s in subjects over the age of 50 with new-onset anxiety was unknown. Understanding that anxiety and the characteristics mentioned are linked to a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease after the age of 50, we hope to be able to detect the condition early and help patients get the treatment they need,” said Juan Bazo Avarez.

At the moment there is no cure for Parkinson’s but targeted therapies can slow it down and significantly improve the quality of life of patients. This is why it is essential to arrive at a diagnosis as early as possible.

An objective that in a not too distant future could also be pursued through theArtificial intelligenceas demonstrated by a team of researchers, led by scientists from UCL and the University Medical Center Goettingen in Germany, who recently developed a simple blood test that uses AI to predict Parkinson’s up to seven years before symptoms appear.


Study conducted by UCL and published in British Journal of General Practice, Risk of Parkinson’s disease in people aged ≥50 years with new-onset anxiety: a retrospective cohort study in UK primary care

Source: Vanity Fair

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