Patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) on clinics who subsequently turn out to have normal dopamine transporter images have been referred to as scans without evidence of dopaminergic deficits (SWEDDs) patients. Cardiovascular autonomic dysfunction has frequently been reported in PD. In this study, we determined the similarities and differences in cardiac autonomic dysfunction between SWEDDs and PD patients. This study investigated whether 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (24-hour ABPM) can help identify possible cases with SWEDDs.
We enrolled 28 SWEDDs patients, 46 patients with PD, and 30 healthy controls. To evaluate cardiac autonomic function, 24-hour ABPM was performed on all subjects. Cardiac metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) scintigraphy was performed on the SWEDDs and PD subjects.
The percentage nocturnal decline in blood pressure differed significantly among SWEDDs patients, PD patients, and controls (p<0.05). In addition to the abnormal nocturnal BP, regulation (nondipping and reverse dipping) was significantly higher in SWEDDs and PD subjects than in the control subjects (p<0.05). There was no significant correlation between the % nocturnal blood pressure reduction and parameters of cardiac MIBG uptake ratio. However, orthostatic hypotension was significant correlated with the nocturnal blood pressure dip (%), nocturnal blood pressure patterns, and the cardiac MIBG uptake ratio (early and late) in combined SWEDDs and PD subjects.
Pathologic nocturnal blood pressure regulation and nocturnal hypertension, known characteristics of PD, are also present in SWEDDs. Moreover, cardiac sympathetic denervation should not be attributed to cardiac autonomic dysfunction in SWEDDs patients. As with PD patients, the SWEDDs patients studied here tended to have cardiac autonomic dysfunction.