Study: Parkinson's Symptoms Common and Risky

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BOSTON: A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that people with parkinsonism -- symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease -- have twice the risk of death of those without the condition. Additionally, the authors conclude that nearly one in five people are afflicted by the condition. Previously, researchers believed the symptoms of parkinsonism, which include tremors, rigid movements, extreme slowness and shuffling gait, were benign manifestations of aging. But after studying 467 elderly Bostonians over nine years, scientists concluded the 159 with parkinsonism had a higher mortality rate. TIME's Janice Horowitz says the study points to the need to consider parkinsonism as a serious illness. "While unfortunately nothing much can currently be done for those afflicted by parkinsonism, it's important we now know their symptoms aren't benign. They need greater attention."