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Is Parkinson’s Disease Fatal? Life Expectancy for Parkinson’s

Parkinson's disease life expectancy is rarely straightforward. Find out all you need to know about progression and prognosis, here at HealthyPlace.

Worried about your Parkinson's disease life expectancy? A Parkinson's disease diagnosis comes with many worries and anxieties. One worry concerns the progression of the disease and whether Parkinson’s disease can be fatal. The issue is rarely straightforward, but there is no reason to think your condition is a death sentence. Many people live for years or decades with their Parkinson’s disease symptoms under control, while the illness progresses more quickly for others. It's important that you know what to expect when you're diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, so don't be afraid to ask questions and air your concerns to your doctor. For now, let's explore the issue of life expectancy of patients with Parkinson's disease and address some common concerns.

Parkinson’s Disease Life Expectancy: Common Concerns

Whether you’ve just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease or your symptoms have started progressing, you’re bound to have concerns about your condition. Here are answers to some common questions about Parkinson’s disease.

Is Parkinson’s disease fatal?

Most doctors agree that Parkinson’s disease is not fatal. In fact, the majority of Parkinson’s patients live as long as others in their age group. According to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, people with Parkinson’s die WITH the condition, not from it. This means that, as the disease progresses, your risk factor for fatal injuries (such as falls and pulmonary conditions) increases, but Parkinson’s itself does not cause death.

What is the main cause of death in Parkinson’s disease patients?

Parkinson's is often referred to as a "bespoke" disease because it affects each patient differently. Another factor worth considering is that Parkinson's disease generally affects people in their 60s, most of whom die of unrelated conditions such as cancer, heart disease or stroke. However, the most common cause of death in those with Parkinson's disease is pneumonia. This is because the disease can impair your ability to swallow in the later stages, putting you at risk for aspirating food or liquid into the lungs.

What is the prognosis for someone with early-onset Parkinson’s?

One of the challenges of early-onset Parkinson’s disease is that you will inevitably live longer with the condition, as Parkinson’s alone is not fatal. Early-onset (also known as youth-onset) Parkinson’s disease does not always present the same way as late-onset Parkinson’s disease, and there is no definite prognosis. Younger Parkinson’s patients may be more at risk of developing non-motor symptoms, such as depression, sleep disorders, anxiety and urinary issues, which can cause health complications as the disease progresses.

However, early-onset patients also show slower disease progression, and it can take years to move between stages. Each case of Parkinson’s is reviewed on an individual basis, so only your doctor can tell you your prognosis.

Parkinson’s disease late stages: what will happen to me?

With advanced Parkinson’s disease, stage 5 life expectancy can be months or years depending on how your condition presents. You are likely to need round-the-clock care at this stage, and you may not be able to move around independently. Patients with late-stage Parkinson’s disease are more susceptible to pneumonia, sepsis, pyelonephritis and decubitus ulcers. Late-stage Parkinson’s also leads to Parkinson’s disease dementia in 50% of cases. For all of these reasons, many late-stage Parkinson’s patients are cared for by loved ones or in a hospice.

Parkinson’s Disease: Is Death Inevitable?

Death is inevitable for us all, but Parkinson's disease in itself is not a death sentence. Your prognosis will depend on your age, general health, and how your Parkinson's has progressed. However, there is no reason to assume that you won't continue to live a full and productive life with the condition.

Scientists are performing new medical trials and research all the time to look for a cure for Parkinson’s disease, while our understanding of medications and treatments is better than it has ever been. Therefore, there are plenty of ways you can control the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and make changes to your lifestyle as necessary. Many Parkinson’s patients take up yoga, gardening, swimming and walking to improve their strength, flexibility and mental health. Others use physical therapy, massage and meditation to help keep symptoms at bay. These are great ways to extend your life expectancy – with or without Parkinson’s disease.

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2020, February 10). Is Parkinson’s Disease Fatal? Life Expectancy for Parkinson’s, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, September 29 from https://www.healthyplace.com/parkinsons-disease/information/is-parkinsons-disease-fatal-life-expectancy-for-parkinsons

Last Updated: February 18, 2020

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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