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Dementia with Lewy Bodies

Lewy Bodies Dementia (LBD) Facts

Patient Comments
  • Dementia is a progressive (gradually worsening) decline of mental abilities that disturbs "cognitive" functions such as memory, thought processes, and speech as well as behavior, and movements.
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies (LBD) is the name for a group of disorders in which dementia is caused by the presence of Lewy bodies in the brain.
    • Lewy bodies are small round clumps of normal proteins that for unknown reasons become abnormally clumped together inside neurons (brain cells).
    • Whether the Lewy bodies directly cause gradual degeneration (damage) to the brain cells, impairing their function and eventually killing them, or are only a marker of some other destructive process is not known.
    • Lewy bodies are named after Frederich Lewy, the doctor who first described them in 1912. Dr. Lewy first found Lewy bodies in the brains of people with Parkinson's disease.
  • Parkinson's disease is a condition best known for disrupting body movements.
    • The most common of these "motor" symptoms are tremor (shaking or trembling) of the hands (that mainly occurs when the hands are at rest and not moving),
    • rigidity (stiffness) of the trunk and limbs,
    • slowness of movement, and
    • loss of balance and coordination.
    • Estimates vary about what percentage of people with Parkinson disease develop dementia.
  • Scientists later discovered cases of Alzheimer's-type dementia linked to Lewy bodies. This was thought to be very rare, but as tests of brain tissue improved, it became clear that Lewy bodies were fairly common and were linked to several different types of dementia.
  • A type of dementia similar to but different from Alzheimer's disease was recognized and called dementia with Lewy bodies. Dementia with Lewy bodies is now believed to be the second or third most common type of dementia after Alzheimer's disease. (There is controversy about whether dementia with Lewy bodies or vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia.)
  • The relationship between dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson's disease is not completely understood. When motor symptoms appear first and predominate over cognitive symptoms, the diagnosis is believed to be Parkinson disease. When cognitive impairment and behavioral disturbances are prominent early symptoms, dementia with Lewy bodies is believed to be the diagnosis.
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies is a disease of aging. People affected by dementia with Lewy bodies are usually elderly or in late middle age.

Dementia with Lewy Bodies Causes

We do not know why Lewy bodies form in the brain.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/10/2016
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Lewy Bodies Dementia (LBD):

Dementia with Lewy Bodies - Experience

Tell us about your experience with Lewy body dementia.

Dementia with Lewy Bodies - Symptoms

What were your symptoms of Lewy body dementia, or those of of a relative or friend?

Dementia with Lewy Bodies - Medications

What medications have been effective in treating the symptoms you or someone you know with dementia with Lewy bodies?

Dementia with Lewy Bodies - Self-Care at Home

What home care or lifestyle changes helped with caring for someone with dementia with Lewy bodies?

Dementia: Tips for Communicating

Communicating with a person who has Alzheimer's disease or another dementia can be very challenging. Changing your approach to the way you communicate may be helpful.

  • First, make sure the person does not have a hearing or vision problem. Sometimes a person may not respond to you because he or she cannot hear you. Not being able to see well may make the person more confused, agitated, or withdrawn. If you suspect a problem, have a health professional evaluate the person's hearing and vision.
  • Don't argue. Offer reassurance, and try to distract the person or focus his or her attention on something else.
  • Use short, simple, familiar words and sentences. Present only one idea at a time. And avoid talking about abstract concepts.

SOURCE: Healthwise


Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Dementia With Lewy Bodies »

Frederick Lewy first described Lewy bodies (LBs), cytoplasmic inclusions found in cells of the substantia nigra in patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease, in 1914.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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