What is Lewy Body Dementia?

Brain

Lewy Body dementia is a type of dementia that leads to progressive decline in thinking, reasoning, and independent function because of abnormal microscopic deposits that gradually destroy certain brain cells. The deposits are called “Lewy bodies” after the neurologist who discovered them.

lewy_bodies

Lewy bodies are also found in several other brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease dementia. Many people with Parkinson’s eventually develop problems with thinking and reasoning, and many people with Lewy Body dementia experience movement symptoms, such as hunched posture, rigid muscles, a shuffling walk and trouble initiating movement. This overlap in symptoms and other evidence suggest that dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinson’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease dementia may be linked.

Prevalence

Most experts estimate that Lewy Body dementia is the third most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, accounting for 10 to 25% of cases.

Symptoms

Hallmark Lewy Body symptoms include:

  • Changes in thinking and reasoning
  • Confusion and alertness that varies significantly from one time of day to another or from one day to the next
  • Parkinson’s symptoms, such as a hunched posture, balance problems, and rigid muscles
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Trouble interpreting visual information
  • Sleep disorders, such as acting out dreams
  • Memory loss that may be less prominent than in Alzheimer’s

Diagnosis

There is no single test — or any combination of tests — that can conclusively diagnose Lewy Body dementia during life. A clinical diagnosis of Lewy Body dementia represents a physician’s best professional judgment about the reason for the person’s symptoms.

Treatment

There are no treatments that can slow or stop the brain cell damage caused by Lewy Body dementia. Current strategies focus on helping symptoms. If your treatment plan includes medications, it’s important to work closely with your physician to identify the drugs that work best for you and the most effective doses.

References, Resources, and Support

http://www.alz.org/dementia/dementia-with-lewy-bodies-symptoms.asp

http://www.lbda.org/

 

 

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