Lewy Bodies dementia

Dementia with Lewy bodies is characterised by abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein that form inside the brain's nerve cells.

These deposits are called 'Lewy bodies' after the scientist who first described them. Lewy bodies have been found in several brain disorders, including dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinson's disease and some cases of Alzheimer's.

Symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies are:-

• Memory problems, poor judgment, confusion and other cognitive symptoms that overlap with Alzheimer's disease

• Excessive daytime drowsiness

• Visual hallucinations

• Cognitive symptoms and level of alertness may get better or worse (fluctuate) during the day or from one day to another

• Movement symptoms similar to Parkinson's Disease, including stiffness, shuffling walk, shakiness, lack of facial expression, and problems with balance and falls.

In about 50 percent of cases, dementia with Lewy bodies is associated with a condition called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep disorder.

REM sleep is the stage where people usually dream. During normal REM sleep, body movement is suppressed and people do not 'act out' their experiences while dreaming. In REM sleep disorder, movement is not blocked and people act out their dreams, sometimes vividly and violently.

Treatment of dementia with Lewy bodies

There are no specific drugs to treat dementia with Lewy bodies. However, some experts believe this condition may have the best response of any dementia to Alzheimer drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors.

If the movement symptoms are severe, medications used in Parkinson's disease may be considered.

Antipsychotic drugs should not be used in Lewy body dementia. Individuals with Lewy body dementia are extremely sensitive to these drugs, which are sometimes used to treat hallucinations or behavioural symptoms of dementia.

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Did you know?

Dementia is a progressive disease (meaning that it gets worse over time) that usually starts later in life and lasts for the rest of a person's life.