"This study found RBD most frequently led to neurodegenerative diseases called the synucleinopathies: Parkinson's disease or dementia with Lewy bodies," says Maja Tippmann-Peikert, M.D., Mayo Clinic sleep medicine specialist, neurologist and the study's lead researcher. "From our findings, I would consider those with RBD at increased risk for these diseases."
RBD is a sleep disorder in which patients act out their dreams, which are often unpleasant and violent, according to Dr. Tippmann-Peikert. This acting out results from a loss of normal muscle paralysis in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the dream stage, which ordinarily prevents enacting one's dreams.
"The danger with RBD is that patients can hurt themselves or their spouses during the acting out behaviors -- bruises, lacerations, bone fractures and even subdural hematomas (brain hemorrhages) have been reported," says Dr. Tippmann-Peikert.
In this study, the investigators mailed questionnaires to 39 patients diagnosed with RBD at the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center between 1988 and 1995. If a patient had died, the questionnaire was mailed to surviving relatives. Of the 23 patients who agreed to participate, five had developed dementia or Parkinson's disease, and 10 reported neurological symptoms highly suggestive of dementia or Parkinson's disease. The patients in this study were an average of 11.2 years beyond their diagnoses of RBD.
This study is the second long-term follow-up study following patients with idiopathic, or inexplicable, RBD, confirming previous findings by Carlos Schenck, M.D., and Mark Mahowald, M.D., o
Contact: Lisa Lucier