A new study shows, People with Parkinson’s disease who show early dysfunction in the nerves controlling heartbeat tend to experience faster disease progression

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According to researchers, these results support a new approach differentiating “brain-predominant” Parkinson’s from disease with “body-involvement.”

Parkinson’s is characterized by the death and dysfunction of dopamine-producing cells in the brain, but the biological mechanisms underlying the disease remain obscure

In recent years, some scientists have proposed that it may be possible to divide Parkinson’s patients into subgroups based on patterns of how the nervous system is affected

Some researchers think that Parkinson’s can be divided into two types: brain-predominant Parkinson’s, or br-PD, in which the damage is mostly limited to cells in the brain

Parkinson’s with body-involvement, called bo-PD, where nerves throughout the body also are affected early in the disease course

Now, a team of scientists at the Catholic University of Korea tested whether patients classified as br-PD or bo-PD showed differences in terms of clinical outcomes

The study included data on 132 Parkinson’s patients, ages to 50 to 75, who were divided into the subtypes based on whether they showed signs of dysfunction in the nerves that control heart rate