Definition

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.

Brain Cells

Neurons

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

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.

Risk Factors

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:

    
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Multiple system atrophy
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Other disorders
  • Symptoms

    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
  • Forgetfulness
  • Parkinsonian motor symptoms, such as rigidity or loss of spontaneous movement
  • REM sleep behavior disorder
  • Diagnosis

    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:     
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • SPECT scan
  • Blood tests
  • The only way to confirm Lewy body disease is through an autopsy.

    Treatment

    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:

    Medications

    These medications may be used to help with the symptoms:

        
  • Cholinesterase inhibitors
  • Glutamate blockers
  • Catecholamines
  • Antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsants
  • If you have Lewy body disease, you may be sensitive to medications called neuroleptics. You may have adverse events with these medications.

    Other Treatments

    You may benefit from:

        
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage
  • Exercise
  • Music
  • Aromatherapy
  • Prevention

    There are no current guidelines to prevent Lewy body disease.