Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Does Parkinson's Cause Fainting Spells?

Friday, 16 July 2010 11:15 AM

Question: My mother is 86 years old. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1993. I have seen her condition worsen, and she now has poor mobility and weakness along with fainting spells. The doctors are clueless; can you help?

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

Parkinson's disease is a disorder of dopamine deficiency that is characterized by increasing mobility problems. As the disease progresses, it is associated with advancing dementia. Falling is fairly common when the condition has not been well-controlled, and fractures are frequent with the elderly. We have medications that slow the progression of this disorder, but do not reverse or correct the inevitable progress of the disease.

Fainting spells are not a characteristic of this disorder, but can be seen if drug management is suboptimal, which places the patient at greater risk for complications. Fainting spells in any patient of this age must be thoroughly evaluated. It would probably be wise to seek a hospital inpatient evaluation without delay before your mother becomes victim to more serious complications. Clearly she urgently needs a complete cardiac and neurological re-evaluation. Given her symptoms, she meets Medicare criteria for hospital admission and evaluation, since she is at high risk for harm from falling and fainting. While she is hospitalized, be sure you obtain consultation from multiple specialists so your doctors are no longer "clueless!"

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