Dementia With Lewy Bodies (cont.)
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Dementia with Lewy Bodies Diagnosis
Dementia symptoms can have many different causes. Some underlying causes are reversible with treatment, others are not, but treatment is often still helpful. It is very important that all reversible causes be ruled out and that the type of dementia is diagnosed correctly, as treatment and outlook vary by type.
At this time, there is no foolproof way to confirm dementia with Lewy bodies in a living person. Definitive diagnosis of dementia with Lewy bodies is possible only after death. Examination of brain tissue at autopsy is the only way to confirm the presence of Lewy bodies. Certain chemical tests are applied to the tissue. One test detects alpha-synuclein, the major protein component of the Lewy bodies. Therefore, dementia with Lewy bodies is what medical professionals call a "clinical diagnosis." This means that the diagnosis is made on the basis of your symptoms, your medical history, your test results, and in some cases even your response to treatment. This method is based on detecting signs that may be very subtle and on the probabilities of your having a specific condition.
If you or a loved one is having dementia symptoms, your health care provider's job is to gather all the relevant information to make an accurate diagnosis. The first step is the medical interview. You will be asked questions about your symptoms and how they have developed over time, your medical problems now and in the past, medications, family medical problems, work and travel history, and habits and lifestyle. If you have trouble answering the questions, a family member or friend may be asked to fill in missing details. A thorough physical examination, including a mental status examination, will look for signs that might indicate the underlying cause of the dementia.
There is no definitive medical test that confirms dementia or dementia with Lewy bodies. The most accurate way to measure cognitive decline is through neuropsychological testing.
There is no specific lab test for dementia with Lewy bodies. Lab tests of your blood may be needed to rule out certain causes of dementia, such as infection, metabolic disorders (such as thyroid imbalance), or medication effects. Basic tests may be done to check your overall level of general health.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/6/2014
Howard A Crystal, MD
Helmi L Lutsep, MD
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