(Lewy Body Dementia; Dementia with Lewy Bodies)
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Dementia is the progressive loss of memory and various other mental functions, including the ability to learn, reason, and judge. Lewy body disease is associated with the build up of Lewy bodies in regions of the brain. These are abnormal protein deposits inside cells that control certain aspects of memory and motor control.
It is not clear exactly what causes the build up of Lewy bodies in the brain. But the disease is linked to:
Factors that can increase your chance of developing Lewy body disease include:
- Gender: male
- Age: 53-83 years
- Family history of Lewy body disease, Parkinson's disease, or other dementias
Lewy body disease is characterized by:
- Fluctuations in alertness and attention—frequent drowsiness, lethargy, staring into space, disorganized speech, and insomnia
- Recurrent visual hallucinations
- Poor regulation of body temperature and blood pressure
- Obsessive compulsive behaviors
- Parkinsonian motor symptoms—rigidity, loss of spontaneous movement
- REM behavior disorder
The only way to diagnose Lewy body disease is through an autopsy . A doctor can do tests to narrow the cause of dementia. You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Other tests may include:
While there is no cure for Lewy body disease, there are treatments that can control the symptoms. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
These medicines may be used to help with the symptoms:
- Donepezil and rivastigmine—to help with cognition; may worsen motor symptoms
- Memantine—to improve behavioral symptoms
- Levodopa—to help control rigidity and loss of spontaneous movement
If you have Lewy body disease, you may be sensitive to medicines called neuroleptics. You may have adverse events with these medicines.
There is no known way to prevent this condition.
Last reviewed March 2013 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.