RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Chronic symmetric symptomatic polyneuropathy in the elderly: a field screening investigation in two Italian regions. I. Prevalence and general characteristics of the sample. Italian General Practitioner Study Group (IGPSG).

Neurology 1995 October
The prevalence and general characteristics of chronic symmetric symptomatic polyneuropathy were assessed in two elderly populations living in Varese, northern Italy, and San Giovanni Rotondo, southern Italy. We interviewed 4,191 subjects (3,027 in Varese and 1,164 in San Giovanni Rotondo), 55 years and older, seen in office consultations by 27 general practitioners. A neurologist examined 734 patients who had two or more symptoms of polyneuropathy. A diagnosis of possible polyneuropathy (screening neuropathic symptoms and one of the following findings: bilateral impairment of strength; bilateral impairment of sensation; bilateral impairment of deep tendon reflexes) was made in 213 patients (7.0%) in Varese and 94 (8.1%) in San Giovanni Rotondo. Probable polyneuropathy (screening symptoms and at least two of the physical findings) was present in 111 Varese patients (3.7%) and 40 San Giovanni Rotondo patients (3.4%). The age- and sex-adjusted prevalence rate of probable polyneuropathy was 3.6 per 100 in Varese and 3.3 per 100 in San Giovanni Rotondo. The disease was more prevalent in women in Varese and in men in San Giovanni Rotondo and was significantly correlated with age in Varese. Diabetes was found in association with probable polyneuropathy in 43.7% of patients. Muscle cramps and distal paresthesia were the main symptoms. In general, polyneuropathy was mild to moderate, impairment of deep tendon reflexes and sensation being the most common findings.

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