Although Lewy body dementia (LBD) is not a rare disease, it is a lesser known form of dementia than Alzheimer’s disease that affects approximately 1.4 million people in the United States alone. Because it can have symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, many health experts believe that Lewy body dementia is widely underdiagnosed. Discovered by scientist Friederich H. Lewy while researching Parkinson’s disease, Lewy body dementia causes a disruption in normal brain functioning.
Lewy body dementia is a form of dementia that occurs when abnormal proteins known as Lewy body proteins cause a disturbance in the ordinary operation of the brain. Lewy body proteins are located in the brain stem and are responsible for depleting the neurotransmitter dopamine, which causes symptoms that are similar to those of Parkinson’s disease. Lewy body proteins spread throughout the brain to the cerebral cortex where they deplete a brain chemical called acetylcholine, resulting in a disruption of behaviour, thinking, and perception.