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Prior Stroke and Other Cerebrovascular Risk Factors Linked with Parkinson’s Disease

 

Medical conditions and health habits that affect blood flow in the brain—or cerebrovascular risk factors—are associated with a subsequent diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, according to a new study from Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian investigators.

The findings, published Aug. 29 in the Annals of Neurology, opens the door to investigating whether better management of cerebrovascular risk factors such as prior stroke, hypertension, diabetes and tobacco use, may help to prevent Parkinson’s disease.

The link between cerebrovascular risk factors and Parkinson’s disease is “similar to the already established relationship between such risk factors and Alzheimer’s disease, although slightly attenuated,” said senior study author Dr. Babak Navi, the Florence Gould Foundation Research Scholar for Discovery in Stroke, an associate professor of neurology in the Department of Neurology and an associate professor of neuroscience in the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute at Weill Cornell Medicine.  

While much of the public is already aware that cerebrovascular risk factors increase the odds of developing Alzheimer’s disease, people don’t know that these same factors could put them at risk for Parkinson’s, said Dr. Navi, who is chief of the Division of Stroke and Hospital Neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, where he is also an associate attending neurologist. “I think new knowledge about this association is empowering because it gives doctors and their patients another reason to get cerebrovascular risk factors under control.”

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