Previous research has already suggested a link between hypertension and Parkinson’s disease, with a team from the University of Basel publishing a paper back in 2008 suggesting that some medications for high blood pressure — known as hypertension — also reduce the risk of contracting Parkinson’s disease. However, the exact connection between the two conditions has been unknown. Previous research indicated that consumption of dairy products as well as statins could lead to a greater risk of Parkinson’s, while wine could delay the onset.
A collaboration between British and Italian scientists, the study analysed data from the worldwide Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) database sponsored by US actor and Parkinson’s patient Michael J. Fox. The team set out to look at whether certain markers of Parkinson’s disease were different in early untreated Parkinson’s patients with and without hypertension, and if so, to what extent.
Some of the markers included in the study were neurological parameters, various biomarkers — medical signs which help identify a disease — and levels of dopamine, as low levels are known to contribute to movement problems in Parkinson’s patients. The team also looked at motor and non-motor symptoms.
From the data the team found evidence that those with hypertension suffered from a more serious form of Parkinson’s disease than patients with normal blood pressure. “It became clear that patients with hypertension exhibit motor symptoms of a greater severity such as muscular rigidity or a slowing of voluntary motor functions as well as a reduced capacity in the affected basal ganglia,” said one of the study’s authors Dr Beniamino Giordano.
“However, these data are only preliminary and further analyses are needed to shed light on the link between hypertension and Parkinson’s,” he added. The findings still led the team to conclude however that, “The results suggest that optimum management of high blood pressure can also improve PD symptoms,” and they now hope that managing blood pressure could be an effective way of reducing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.