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Lewy Body Dementia


Lewy body dementia is a form of dementia that occurs because of abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein inside the brain's nerve cells. These deposits are called "Lewy bodies," after the scientist who first described them. The deposits interrupt the brain’s messages. Lewy body dementia usually affects the areas of the brain that involve thinking and movement. Why or how Lewy bodies form is unknown.

Lewy body dementia can occur by itself, or together with Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's. It accounts for 5-15% of all dementias.

Other names for Lewy body dementia include:

    Diffuse Lewy body disease
    Cortical Lewy body disease
    Lewy body disease
    Senile Dementia of Lewy Type
    Dementia with Lewy bodies
    Lewy body variant of Alzheimer's disease

How does Lewy body dementia affect the person?

A person with Lewy body dementia may have symptoms much like those of both Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. A progressive loss of memory, language, reasoning and other higher mental functions such as calculating numbers is common. He may have difficulty with short-term memory, finding the right word and keeping a train of thought. He may also experience depression and anxiety. Obvious changes in alertness may also happen. He may be sleepy during the day, but wide awake at night, unable to sleep. Sometimes, he may seem like he does not care about anything. This is called apathy.

Lewy body dementia usually progresses quickly. Problems with memory may not be an early symptom, but can come up as Lewy body dementia progresses. Visual hallucinations (seeing things that are not real) are common and can be worse during times of increased confusion. The visual hallucinations often come back again and again, and typically are of people, children or animals. People with the disease may also make errors in perception, for example, seeing faces in a carpet pattern.

Some features of Lewy body dementia can resemble those in Parkinson's disease. These include rigidity (stiffness of muscles), tremors (shaking), stooped posture, and slow, shuffling movements. Sensitivity to medication, especially some sedatives, may make these symptoms worse.

Read more about Lewy body dementia here

Source: Alzheimer Society Canada - Last Updated 12/07/13