DEMENTIA WITH LEWY BODIES (DLB)
This considered the third most common cause of dementia accounting for 10 to 25 % of cases. The hallmark abnormality is the build up of Lewy bodies – accumulated bits of alpha-synuclein protein- inside the nuclei of neurons in brain regions that control motor and memory. It is not known how alpha-synuclein protein accumulates in Lewy bodies.
The main feature of dementia with Lewy bodies is progressive cognitive decline combined with three other features:
- pronounced “fluctuations” in alertness and attention, such as frequent drowsiness, lethargy, lengthy periods of time spent staring into space, or disorganized speech;
- recurrent visual hallucinations;
- parkinsonian motor symptoms, such as rigidity and the loss of spontaneous movement
Lewy bodies are also found in the brains of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Many persons with Parkinson’s disease eventually develop problems with thinking, reasoning and memory. Persons with DLB also display symptoms related to Parkinson’s disease such as rigid muscles, shuffling, and initiating movement. This suggests that there may be a link in the way the brain processes alpha-synuclein protein. Also it is noted that many persons who have DLB and Parkinson’s dementia also have the same plaques and tangles as found in Alzheimer’s disease.
Similarities of symptoms between DLB and Parkinson’s disease as well as similarities with Alzheimer’s disease makes diagnosis challenging. As of today DLB is a clinical diagnosis meaning that it relies on the doctor’s best professional judgment. There is no single test with can conclusively diagnose DLB. An autopsy is the only sure way to diagnose DLB.
According to the information on the Alz.org website http://www.alz.org/dementia/dementia-with-lewy-bodies-symptoms.asp the key differences between Alzheimer’s disease and DLB are below
TREATMENT DLB: Currently there are no treatments for the brain cell damage only ones for the symptoms.