In the early 1900s, while researching Parkinson’s disease, the scientist Friederich H. Lewy discovered abnormal protein deposits that disrupt the brain’s normal functioning. These Lewy body proteins are found in an area of the brain stem where they deplete the neurotransmitter dopamine, causing Parkinsonian symptoms.
In Lewy body dementia, these abnormal proteins are diffused throughout other areas of the brain, including the cerebral cortex. The brain chemical acetylcholine is depleted, causing disruption of perception, thinking and behavior. Lewy body dementia exists either in pure form, or in conjunction with other brain changes, including those typically seen in Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
LBD is an umbrella term for two closely related clinical diagnoses: Parkinson’s disease dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).
Lewy body dementia (LBD) is a progressive brain disorder that can present with a range of symptoms including problems with thinking, memory, moving, sleep and/or changes in behavior. It also affects body functions, such as blood pressure control, temperature regulation, and bladder and bowel function.
Patients with LBD may have fluctuations in attention or alertness; problems with movement including tremors, stiffness, slowness and difficulty walking; hallucinations; and alterations in sleep and behavior.
The causes of LBD are not yet well understood, but research is ongoing in this area. There are probably multiple factors involved, including genetic and environmental risk factors that combine with natural aging processes to make someone susceptible to LBD.
To learn more about Lewy Body Dementia, contact the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center at 561-588-4545 or visit our website at www.alzpb.org. Thank you for watching and we’ll see you next week.