-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Sept. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Brain imaging may help
identify sleep disorder patients at greatest risk for
neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and Parkinson's
disease, an international team of researchers has found.
Their study of people with rapid-eye-movement sleep behavior
disorder (IRBD) found that brain imaging tests can detect
neurodegenerative disease-related brain abnormalities before a
person develops noticeable symptoms.
Previous research has shown that IRBD of unknown cause may be an
early predictor of neurodegenerative diseases in more than half of
patients, but it hasn't been possible to identify which patients
will develop these diseases.
Being able to identify IRBD patients at increased risk would
lead to earlier treatment and improve understanding of the early
stages of neurodegenerative diseases, according to Alex Iranzo de
Riquer, of the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, and colleagues.
At the start of the study, 43 patients with IRBD underwent two
brain imaging tests -- dopamine transporter imaging and
Of the 27 patients whose imaging tests showed brain
abnormalities associated with Parkinson's and a brain disease known
as dementia with Lewy bodies, eight (30 percent) had developed a
neurodegenerative disease when assessed 2-1/2 years later. Five had
Parkinson's disease; two had dementia with Lewy bodies; and one had
multiple system atrophy, a rare condition that affects movement,
balance and other bodily functions.
The patients without brain abnormalities (and 70 percent of
those with such abnormalities) remained disease-free at the end of
The study findings were released online Sept. 14 in advance of
publication in the November print issue of
The Lancet Neurology.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about
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