PHILADELPHIA —Impulse control disorders, including compulsive gambling, buying, sexual and eating behaviors are thought to occur in as many as 20% of Parkinson’s disease patients over the course of their illness.

A study in the European Journal of Neurology sought to determine the frequency, demographic and clinical correlates —age, sex, disease severity and dopaminergic treatment—of impulse control disorder symptoms and related behaviors in patients with PD, with and without dementia.1

To do that, an international study team including the Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education and Clinical Center at the Philadelphia VAMC analyzed historical data from a national, multicenter, cross-sectional database and assessed impulse control disorder and related behaviors with the Scale for Evaluation of Neuropsychiatric Disorders in Parkinson’s Disease. The survey was administered as a semi-structured interview to 85 patients with dementia or caregivers and 444 patients without.

Researchers determined that dopamine agonist therapy use was common and similar in the two groups (78.8% in PD-D vs. 82.9% in PD-ND), but impulse control disorders (23.5% vs. 13.3%, P = 0.02), hobbyism-punding (32.9% vs. 10.6%, P < 0.001) and dopaminergic medication abuse (8.2% vs. 3.2%, P = 0.03) were more common in the PD-D group.

“The finding that ICDs and related behaviors are more common in patients with PD frequently treated with dopamine agonists who also have comorbid dementia suggests that the neural substrates associated with PD dementia may also predispose to development of compulsive behaviors, the authors concluded.

  1. Martinez-Martin P, Wan YM, Ray Chaudhuri K, Schrag AE, Weintraub D. Impulse control and related behaviors in Parkinson’s disease with dementia [published online ahead of print, 2020 Feb 11]. Eur J Neurol. 2020;10.1111/ene.14169. doi:10.1111/ene.14169