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What's the Life Expectancy for Parkinson's Disease?

What’s the Life Expectancy for Parkinson's Disease?

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As someone living with advanced Parkinson’s disease, you may think of yourself as an expert on this brain disorder. And while you certainly know a lot about it, including how Parkinson’s affects your body and your brain, there are some things that you’ve likely never heard before. Here are five surprising facts about advanced Parkinson’s disease.

  1. Hallucinations and delusions can be a side effect of the medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease, rather than a symptom of disease progression.
    It can be challenging to know how much — and how fast — Parkinson’s disease is progressing. For someone with the disease, having an out-of-body experience like a hallucination or a delusion can be frightening. But research shows that these experiences are in most cases a reaction to Parkinson’s disease medications, and do not point to disease progression.
  2. People with advanced Parkinson's are more likely to experience life-threatening complications.
    Because Parkinson’s affects your central nervous system, complications related to the disease can lead to life-threatening events. For instance, you may have more trouble swallowing because of advanced Parkinson’s, which could increase the risk of food or fluids getting into your lungs and potentially causing pneumonia. If these related illnesses are left untreated, or are untreatable, it can increase a person’s risk of dying.
  3. An advanced Parkinson’s diagnosis typically happens after a person has already lost some of their motor skills.
    It can be hard to pinpoint the exact moment you thought to yourself, “Maybe it’s Parkinson’s.” While the disease largely affects your brain, it’s your body that tends to be impacted first. Tremors, stiffness, and loss of movement or mobility are just some of the disease’s first warning signs. Advanced Parkinson’s can cause these symptoms to worsen over time.
  4. Studies show that certain regions of the United States include more people with Parkinson’s than others.
    Where you call home may point to how many of your neighbors have Parkinson’s disease, too. Studies have found that the prevalence of the disease is 2 to 10 times higher in the Midwest and Northeast regions of the United States. On top of this, metropolitan cities tend to have more diagnosed patients than rural counties.
  5. Parkinson’s is not a death sentence, even though it’s a progressive disease.  
    Yes, Parkinson’s is a progressive disease, which is why many doctors may tell you that you’ll have it until the end of your life — but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will cause the end of your life. Because the disease is often diagnosed later in someone’s life, and advances thereafter, the majority of those diagnosed with the disease are already getting on in years.
Article resources: http://www.parkinson.org/understanding-parkinsons/non-motor-symptoms/Psychosis https://www.michaeljfox.org/understanding-parkinsons/living-with-pd/topic.php?prognosis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2865395/ http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/parkinsons_disease/parkinsons_research.htm

Parkinson’s is a progressive brain disorder that affects mobility and mental ability. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, you may be wondering about life expectancy. While the disease itself isn’t fatal, related complications can reduce life expectancy.


In people with Parkinson’s disease, the cells that produce dopamine start to die. Dopamine is a chemical that helps you move normally. There’s no known direct cause of Parkinson’s. One theory is that it may be hereditary. Other theories say exposure to pesticides and living in rural communities may cause it.

Men are 50 percent more likely than women to develop the disease. Researchers have not found the exact reasons for this statistic.


The symptoms of Parkinson’s are gradual and sometimes unnoticeable in the early stages of the disease. They symptoms may include:

  • tremors
  • loss of balance
  • slowing of movements
  • spontaneous, uncontrollable movements

Parkinson’s disease is classified in stages, ranging from I to V. Stage V is the most advanced and debilitating stage. Advanced stages may increase the risk for health complications that reduce lifespan.

You asked, we answered

  • Why did it take so long for the diagnosis?- Alice R.
  • Parkinson's disease is essentially a clinical diagnosis; meaning that a physician will make this diagnosis based on several clinical features seen. There is no definitive medical test that can be performed on a patient. Symptoms of Parkinson's disease include tremor, slowness of movement, stiffness, and balance problems. However, the presentation and progression of these symptoms vary widely from patient to patient. As well, the initial presentation is often subtle and can be ascribed to other conditions. Some people think their symptoms are due to normal aging, which may delay presentation to the doctor. Another common finding in patients with Parkinson's disease is "masked facies" or an expressionless face, which often gets mistaken for depression. If there is concern that someone is developing Parkinson's disease, they should be seen by a neurologist for a clinical exam to help establish the diagnosis.

    - The Healthline Medical Team

Fatal Falls

Falls are a common secondary symptom of Parkinson’s disease. The risk of falling is greater in Stages IV and V. In these stages, you may not be able to stand or walk on your own. You’re also prone to broken bones and concussions, and severe falls can be dangerous. A serious fall can reduce your life expectancy due to complications from the fall.

Other Health Complications

According to The National Collaborating Centre for Chronic Conditions, certain related complications can directly affect longevity. These include:


Age is another factor in the diagnosis and outlook for Parkinson’s disease. Most people will be diagnosed after the age of 60. Age can also make you more prone to falls and certain health diseases even without Parkinson’s disease. Such risks can increase for older adults with Parkinson’s.


Women have a reduced risk for getting Parkinson’s. Women with Parkinson’s tend to live longer with the disorder than men. However, age can play a factor regardless of gender. Female patients who are over 60 may not fare as well as younger women diagnosed with the disease.

Access to Treatment

Life expectancy has increased dramatically due to advances in treatment. Medications and occupational therapy are especially helpful in the earliest stages of the disease. These treatments can improve a patient’s quality of life.

Long-Term Outlook

Life expectancy for people with Parkinson’s who receive proper treatment is often about the same as for the general population. Early detection is the key to reducing complications that can shorten your life. If you suspect that you or a loved one may have Parkinson’s disease, see your doctor right away.