People with hypertension may fare worse than those with normal blood pressure if they receive a Parkinson’ disease diagnosis, according to the results of a new study.

“The results suggest that optimum management of high blood pressure can also improve Parkinson’s disease symptoms,” study authors said.

A group of Italian and British researchers used data from the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative database sponsored by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to look for a difference in the markers in early, untreated Parkinson’s disease. Some of these markers included motor and nonmotor symptoms, neurologic parameters and dopaminergic status.

“It became clear that patients with hypertension exhibit motor symptoms of a greater severity, such as muscular rigidity or a slowing of voluntary motor functions, as well as a reduced capacity in the affected basal ganglia,” said Beniamino Giordano, M.D., visiting researcher at King’s College London and a clinical research associate at the Neurodegeneration Imaging Group. He presented the results of the study at the recent Third Congress of the European Academy of Neurology in Amsterdam.

Researchers acknowledge that the data only were preliminary, so more research would need to be done to determine the full relationship between the two diseases. A link between the two diseases has been studied previously, however. A 2008 University of Basel (Switzerland) study found that some hypertension medications reduced the risk of Parkinson’s disease.