The hospital mortality of COVID-19 patients with Parkinson’s disease was higher than that of COVID-19 patients without PD, and is particularly high for those between the ages of 75 and 79, according to a nationwide cross-sectional study conducted by neurologists in Bochum, Germany.

Parkinson’s patients who died with COVID-19 were more likely to have chronic kidney disease and also were more likely in a later stage of PD compared with survivors.

“Remarkably, more Parkinson’s patients died in hospitals in 2020 than in 2019, which may also be due to circumstances associated with overall COVID-19 disease management,” concluded research team leader Lars Tönges, M.D.

The analysis further showed that COVID-19 was more common in hospitalized patients with Parkinson’s disease than those without PD, especially for those older than 65 years or with particularly severe Parkinson’s. In addition, the study confirmed that Parkinson’s patients who had COVID-19 were more likely to be affected by known high-risk conditions. 

“Parkinson’s patients may be at particular risk for severe COVID-19 due to frailty, which increases with age and advanced disease stages,” Tönges said. “Lung function may be impaired by common comorbidities and respiratory muscle weakness associated with Parkinson’s. In addition, dysphagia makes people more susceptible to pneumonia.”

The study authors concluded that this research illustrates a need for “optimal treatment of Parkinson’s patients despite the current pandemic.” One way to ensure this high-level treatment, they suggested, might be with increased telemedical services.