What is Lewy Body Dementia

 

What is Lewy Body Dementia

Lewy body dementia is the second most known type of degenerative dementia. It develops when a protein called alpha-synuclein has abnormal deposits in the brain. These abnormal protein deposits called Lewy bodies affect different brain regions. As they spread, they inflict damage to the brain cells, resulting in losing several mental functions.

From diagnosis, the condition lasts 5 to 8 years on average until death. However, the person can live between 2 to 20 years.

Two Types of Lewy body dementia

There are two types of Lewy Body Dementia (LBD): dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) and Parkinson's disease dementia. Often, people refer to dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) as Lewy body dementia (LBD).

Both types are characterized by similar symptoms and cause the same changes in the brain. The distinction lies in the timing of the movement and cognitive (thinking) symptoms. In Parkinson's disease, movement symptoms first appear, followed by a decline in cognitive skills. Meanwhile, cognitive deterioration symptoms emerge first in dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) followed by movement problems after a while.

Dementia with Lewy bodies manifest symptoms similar to Alzheimer's, which makes it challenging to diagnose. But over time, movement issues and related symptoms that suggest DLB will start to appear.

What causes Lewy body dementia

The cause of LBD remains unknown. The condition isn't linked to genetics either. Up to this day, scientists are researching more about its genetics and biology.

Three main factors raise the risk of the disease:

  • Age: People over 60 years old
  • Sex: LBD affects more men than women.
  • Family history: Families with a history of Parkinson's disease or LBD.

Symptoms

Mild to severe symptoms that suggest Lewy body dementia can appear, but these signs may also vary from person to person.

Common symptoms of Lewy body dementia include:

  • Delusions, depression, anxiety, agitation, paranoia
  • A decline in thinking abilities
  • Loss of concentration
  • Visual hallucinations (in up to 80% of LBD cases)
  • Movement and posture problems, such as balance issues and repeated falls, muscle incoordination and stiffness, slow movement, difficulty swallowing
  • REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), such as talking while asleep, vivid dreaming, and falling out of bed.
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Insomnia

Treatment

Lew body dementia can't be prevented or cured; however, some symptoms may positively respond to a combination of medication, counseling, and therapy treatments. Moreover, building a reliable dementia care team can help provide the utmost care the person needs.

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