What is Lewy body dementia?
Lewy body dementia, also known as dementia with Lewy bodies, is a type of progressive dementia. Lewy bodies are masses of protein that form in the nerve cells in the regions of the brain responsible for thinking, memory, and motor control. The abnormal buildup of protein in these masses causes Lewy body dementia.
Patients with Lewy body dementia experience a progressive decline in mental abilities. Symptoms of Lewy body dementia include:
- Sleep difficulties
- Cognitive problems
- Visual hallucinations
- Movement disorders
- Fluctuating attention
- Poor regulation of body functions (autonomic nervous system)
Doctors often diagnose Lewy body dementia using the exclusion strategy that rules out other conditions that may cause similar symptoms. Furthermore, a series of tests may also be conducted to compare the patient’s test results with other individuals of a similar age to distinguish normal and abnormal cognitive aging. These tests may include:
- CT scan
- Blood tests
- Brain scans
- Myocardial scintigraphy
- Neurological examination
- Assessment of mental abilities
Lifestyle changes such as regular physical activity, limiting caffeine intake, and participating in activities that involve using thinking skills along with medications can help manage symptoms and slow progression.