Lewy body dementia affects more than one million individuals in the United States every year, making it the second most common form of dementia. It is the result of an excessive accumulation of protein into deposits called Lewy bodies. Symptoms include confusion, muscle rigidness, visual hallucinations, and tremors. This condition can cause a decline in a patient's mental state.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Lewy body dementia. However, there are Lewy body dementia treatments out there. Patients often require Parkinson's disease medications. Cholinesterase inhibitors, a common Alzheimer's disease medication, may also be used on Lewy body dementia patients. Patients also require natural remedies for Lewy body dementia. Specifically, they need lifestyle changes such as creating daily routines and modifying their environment appropriately.
Association With Parkinson's Disease
Lewy body dementia is associated with Parkinson's disease because the proteins found in individuals with Lewy body dementia are also found in Parkinson's disease patients. Although most individuals with Parkinson's disease exhibit Lewy bodies in their brain, it is not an indicator that they will eventually develop Lewy body dementia. The most common symptom between the two is that with both diseases, most patients will experience some form of dementia.
The type of dementia experienced is different in Parkinson's disease patients and Lewy body dementia patients. Parkinson's disease patients experience dementia later in their disease, precluded by a loss in motor functions. In contrast, Lewy body dementia patients will experience the inverse effect.
Continue reading to reveal the major connection to Alzheimer's disease next.
Association With Alzheimer's Disease
Lewy body dementia also has an association with Alzheimer's disease: Lewy bodies are also found in patients with Alzheimer's disease. Again, the presence of Lewy bodies in the brain does not guarantee that an individual will develop Lewy body dementia.
However, researchers have theorized the symptom overlap. Other brain abnormalities apparent in all three diseases can be attributed to how the brain processes (or its inability to process) the protein alpha-synuclein. Brain scans have shown that individuals with Lewy body dementia, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease all have plaques and tangles in their brains.
Continue reading to learn about the link with age next.
Age is considered the greatest risk factor for Lewy body dementia. It is more likely to affect individuals over fifty years old. The average onset period is between fifty and eighty-five years old, with a progressional decline after the initial onset. However, some cases have reported the initial onset much earlier than fifty years old.
One study showed a significant link between the initial onset and the severity of the disease. The study covered a sample of individuals with Lewy body dementia from early-onset (twenty-eight years old) to late-onset (eighty-nine years old). It found that individuals with an earlier onset of Lewy body dementia had a more aggressive form of the disease than those who had a later onset.
Continue reading to learn how gender impacts this condition next.
Gender also appears to be correlated with Lewy body dementia, with a higher occurrence of the disease in males. A study based on autopsy studies attempted to define why males tended to have higher rates of Lewy body dementia and were able to dismiss co-founding attributes. These attributes included a patient's length of life, smoking status, and education level.
The study theorized that environmental exposures and the alteration of sex hormones might play a part in the increased risk. Despite this theory, the study acknowledged that further research would need to be conducted to establish a definitive link and understanding of the sex component related to the occurrence of Lewy body dementia.
Continue reading to learn about genetics and Lewy body dementia next.
The National Institute on Aging states that having a family member with Lewy body dementia may increase an individual's risk of developing it. However, Lewy body dementia is not classified as a genetic disease. Variants in three specific genes (APOE, SNCA, and GBA) have been tested. These tests found the variants have an affiliation with an increased risk of developing the disease. However, the actual cause of the variance is unknown.
Despite the advancement of genetic testing, there currently is no test with the ability to predict the development of Lewy body dementia. More genes and variance will need to be researched and linked to understand if genetics truly plays a part in the development of Lewy body dementia.