Diabetes May Accelerate Movement Problems
Diabetes in older individuals appeared to speed up the progression of rigidityand walking disturbances. On the other hand, diabetes did not affect other movement,including slowness and tremor, according to the results of a study reportedin Neurology (September 28, 2004). Together, these movement problems arereferred to as parkinsonian-like signs because individuals with Parkinson's diseaseoften have one or more of them.
Although parkinsonian-like signs are common with old age, few risk factors fortheir development have been identified. The current study examined the possiblelink between diabetes and physical and neurologic disability. The researchers evaluateddata from 822 older Catholic clergymen and clergywomen who participated inthe Religious Orders Study. At the onset of the study, all of the participants did nothave Parkinson's disease or a dementia diagnosis. The participants were followed forup to 9 years with annual neurologic examinations.
The researchers pointed out that 128 participants were diagnosed with diabetes.In 6 years of follow-up, participants with diabetes experienced increasing rigidityand walking, compared with diabetes-free participants. The researchers concluded,"Diabetes may be a previously unrecognized risk factor for the progression ofparkinsonian-like signs in older persons."