There are 7,300 patients with Parkinson’s disease in Denmark and many more in the world, symptoms are slow movement often with shaking together with muscular rigidity. Parkinson’s disease is a chronic condition that continues to worsen over time and about half the patients experience cognitive decline early in the disease. The disease is somewhat more common in men than in women and It occurs because the brain lacks dopamine. It primarily affects adults and the first sign most often appears between the age of 50-70.
Patients who suffer from REM sleep behaviour disorder have altered blood flow in the brain which can lead to a lack of oxygen in the brain tissue. In the long term, this may cause symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. This is shown by research from Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital.
Do you sleep restlessly and flail your arms and kick out in your sleep? This could be a sign of a disorder associated with a disease of the brain. Researchers from AU and AUH have examined whether the sleep disorder RBD which is known as Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behavior Disorder may be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease.
Simon Fristed Eskildsen, who is behind the study said “ we can use complications in the small blood vessels of the brain in patients with RBD, although those patients don’t otherwise have any symptoms and the brain doesn’t show other signs of disease.
He further explained: we believe that the same disease process that causes disrupt sleep also affects the ability to control the blood flow in the brain which can lead to a lack of oxygen in the brain tissue. Over time this will gradually break down the brain tissue and cause symptoms that we see in Parkinson’s disease.
Patients monitored while asleep:
The change in the brain is associated with reduced neurotransmitters, meaning that nerves in the brain have trouble controlling the blood vessels.
“A medical treatment would be able to restore the neurotransmitters and control of the blood vessels thereby helping to maintain the cognitive function of a patient who shows early sign of Parkinson’s disease, the researchers explained.
Twenty RBD patients aged 54 to 77 years and 25 healthy control subjects age 58 to 76 participated in the study. The participants in the study were monitored in a sleep laboratory, where they had their EEG (electrical activity in the brain), EOG( eye movements), ECG( electrical activity in the heart) measured during sleep.
“The patients and the control subjects were tested cognitive and MRI scanned, and the results revealed low blood flow and flow disturbance in the small blood vessels in the brain of the patients compared with the control group. In the patients, these flow disturbances seen in the cerebral Cortez were associated with language comprehension, visual construction and recognition. This was also associated with reduced cognitive performance says the last author of the study, Nicola Pavese.
The researchers will now investigate whether the reduced blood flow in the brain deteriorates over time and how it is linked to the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The hope is that it will be possible to use the method to predict the disease in patients with sleep disorder in order to then prevent the symptoms at an early stage.
By: Peace Chigozie