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Sleep disorder may indicate dementia risk

August 9, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A new study suggests that a specific sleep disorder may be an early warning sign that a person will develop dementia or Parkinson's disease later in life.Researchers used records from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. They identified 27 people who experienced rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder for at least 15 years before developing one of three conditions: Parkinson's disease, dementia or multiple system atrophy.

People with REM sleep behavior disorder often act out their dreams with violent movements.

Multiple system atrophy is a disorder that causes symptoms similar to Parkinson's.

Of the participants, 13 were diagnosed with dementia, 13 others were diagnosed with Parkinson's and one was diagnosed with multiple system atrophy.

The study found that the time between when the sleep disorder begins and the neurological symptoms showed up ranged up to 50 years.

"More research is needed on this possible link so that scientists may be able to develop therapies that would slow down or stop the progression of these disorders years before the symptoms of Parkinson's disease or dementia appear," said study author Bradley F. Boeve, MD, in a news release.

The findings are published in the online issue of the medical journal, Neurology.


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