Parkinson’s disease does not affect men and women in the same way: there are important differences in the symptoms of the disease depending on the sex of the patient because it influences the mechanisms of Parkinson’s disease. This is one of the main conclusions drawn from the new study of the COPPADIS project, promoted by the Movement Disorders Study Group (GETM) of the Spanish Society of Neurology (SEN), which has just been published in the journal ‘Journal of Clinical Medicine’.
“This is the first study carried out in Spain that analyzes the differences by sex in Parkinson’s disease in a large cohort of patients -410 men and 271 women- and it is one of the largest studies carried out to date in the world”, explains Dr. Diego Santos, member of the Movement Disorders Study Group of the SEN and lead author of this paper. “Different genetic, hormonal, neuroendocrine and molecular factors appear to be involved in the differences in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease between men and women. Because of this, we already know that the incidence and prevalence of Parkinson’s disease is between 1.5 and 2 times higher in men than in women and that the onset of the disease in women is slightly later than in men, but we believed it necessary also see how these factors influence the motor and non-motor symptoms of the disease, the quality of life and the daily autonomy of our patients”, he highlights.
According to this study, symptoms such as depression, fatigue, and pain are more frequent and/or severe in women; while symptoms such as hypomimia (decrease in facial expression), speech problems, rigidity, and hypersexuality are more common in men.
Women see their functional capacity more affected
On the other hand, and especially in the short term, men with Parkinson’s disease show a greater tendency to develop greater disability related to the non-motor symptoms of the disease. On the contrary, women see their functional capacity to carry out activities of daily living more affected and the perception of loss of quality of life is also generally higher in women.
Another difference that the study shows is that it seems that women receive, in general, lower doses of specific medication for Parkinson’s disease, although adjusting the dose for weight, no differences are observed between the two genders. On the contrary, women consume antidepressants, benzodiazepines and analgesics more frequently. “In our analysis, we have also detected many other differences between men and women with Parkinson’s disease. For example, that women are more likely to live alone, that they have a lower educational level, that they consume more drugs for other diseases, or that they have a greater risk of suffering from depression -almost double that of men-. On the contrary, certain harmful habits (such as smoking and alcohol consumption) are significantly more frequent in men”, comments Dr. Diego Santos.
“We believe that it is important to know all these differences, because we will be able to better adapt the treatments, better predict their results and, in general, improve the care of our patients if we take into account the differences that exist in the progression of Parkinson’s disease due to sex and the different individual and social needs”, he concludes.