Cognitive impairment is a significant non-motor symptom of Parkinson's disease (PD). Longitudinal cohort studies have demonstrated that approximately 50% of those with PD develop dementia after 10 years, increasing to over 80% after 20 years. Deficits in cognition can be identified at the time of PD diagnosis in some patients and this mild cognitive impairment (PD-MCI) has been studied extensively over the last decade. Although PD-MCI is a risk factor for developing Parkinson's disease dementia there is evidence to suggest that PD-MCI might consist of distinct subtypes with different pathophysiologies and prognoses. The major pathological correlate of Parkinson's disease dementia is Lewy body deposition in the limbic system and neocortex although Alzheimer's related pathology is also an important contributor. Pathological damage causes alteration to neurotransmitter systems within the brain, producing behavioural change. Management of cognitive impairment in PD requires a multidisciplinary approach and accurate communication with patients and relatives is essential.
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