Essential tremor-Parkinson’s disease: A double whammy.

Surprisingly little has been written about the combined clinical entity, essential tremor-Parkinson’s disease (ET-PD), which is the result of a double disease hit. We carefully quantified tremor burden using a wide range of measures (tremor severity, tremor-related disability, tremor-related quality of life) and furthermore, studied additional motor and non-motor features in ET-PD. In this prospective, clinical-epidemiological study, the authors performed a standardized, structured clinical evaluation of 27 ET-PD patients, comparing them to age-matched samples of 35 PD and 109 ET patients. The number of hours/day shaking was lowest in PD (median=3.0), intermediate in ET (median=10.0) and highest in ET-PD (median=14.0) (p<0.001). All measures of mobility and balance (Berg Balance test, Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale, Timed Up and Go test) worsened across groups in a stepwise manner from ET to PD to ET-PD (p<0.05). Mini-mental state test scores worsened (p=0.002) and daytime sleepiness increased (p=0.002) across groups from ET to PD to ET-PD.

The ET-PD patient seems to be more than just a PD patient with a little more kinetic tremor. Aside from a significantly greater tremor burden, ET-PD patients exhibited more cognitive and sleep problems and more mobility and balance problems than patients with isolated PD.