Lewy Body Disease
(Lewy Body Dementia; Dementia with Lewy Bodies)
Lewy body disease is a type of dementia. 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 play a role in certain aspects of memory, visual processing, and and motor control. It is not clear exactly what causes the build up of Lewy bodies in the brain.
Lewy body disease is more common in men, and in people over 50 years old. It is also more common in people with a family history of Lewy body disease, Parkinson's disease, or other dementias.
The disease is linked to:
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, such as rigidity or loss of spontaneous movement
- REM sleep behavior disorder
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A doctor can do tests to narrow the cause of dementia. Other tests may include:
- Memory, language, and other cognitive tests
- Neuropsychological tests
- Patient and family interviews
- Imaging tests take pictures of internal bodily structures. This can be done with:
- Blood tests
The only way to confirm Lewy body disease is through an autopsy after death.
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 medications may be used to help with the symptoms:
- Cholinesterase inhibitors
- Glutamate blockers
If you have Lewy body disease, you may be sensitive to medications called neuroleptics. You may have adverse events with these medications.
There are no current guidelines to prevent Lewy body disease.
Lewy Body Dementia Association
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Canadian Stroke Network
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NINDS dementia with Lewy bodies information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/dementiawithlewybodies/dementiawithlewybodies.htm. Updated May 22, 2014. Accessed August 15, 2014.
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9/3/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Wippold FJ, Brown DC, Broderick DF, et al. American College of Radiology (ACR) Appropriateness Criteria for dementia and movement disorders. Available at: http://www.acr.org/~/media/ACR/Documents/AppCriteria/Diagnostic/DementiaAndMovementDisorders.pdf. Updated 2014. Accessed September 3, 2014.
Last reviewed August 2015 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.