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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.
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Lewy body disease is associated with the buildup 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 motor control. It is not clear exactly what causes the buildup 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, Parkinsons 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
- Rapid eye 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.
Lewy Body Dementia Association
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Canadian Stroke Network
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Dementia with Lewy bodies. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T506595/Dementia-with-Lewy-bodies. Updated June 15, 2016. Accessed September 28, 2016.
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Jellinger KA. Formation and development of Lewy pathology: a critical update. J Neurol. 2009;256(Suppl 3):270-279.
Kemp PM, Hoffmann SA, et al. Limitations of the HMPAO SPECT appearances of occipital lobe perfusion in the differential diagnosis of dementia with Lewy bodies. Nucl Med Commun. 2007;28(6):451-456.
Meeus B, Theuns J, et al. The genetics of dementia with Lewy bodies: what are we missing? Arch Neurol. 2012;69(9):1113-8.
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.
Tarawneh R, Galvin JE. Distinguishing Lewy body dementias from Alzheimer’s disease. Expert Review of Neurotherapeautics. 2007;7(11):1499-1516.
Weintraub D, Hurtig HI. Presentation and management of psychosis in Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. Am J Psychiatry. 2007;164(10):1491-1498.
9/3/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T506595/Dementia-with-Lewy-bodies: 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.
- Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
- Review Date: 08/2015
- Update Date: 09/15/2016