Skip to main content

Lewy Body Dementia

Lewy body dementia (LBD) is another common brain disease in older adults. Most cases occur in adults older than 60, and it appears to be more common in men.  LBD is caused by abnormal protein deposits called Lewy bodies, which can lead to problems with thinking, movement, behavior, and mood.  Common symptoms include visual hallucinations, fluctuating levels of attention (clear days and confused days), cognitive and motor dysfunction, sleep behavior disorder, and severe sensitivity to anti-psychotic drugs.

The two types of LBD are:

  • Dementia with Lewy bodies, in which cognitive symptoms appear within a year of movement problems
  • Parkinson’s disease dementia, in which cognitive problems develop more than a year after the onset of movement problems

The symptoms of LBD can closely resemble and overlap with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease making it difficult to diagnose.  Drugs that are effective for LBD include cholinesterase inhibitors, which increase the levels of chemical messengers that are important for memory, thought, and judgment.  Movement symptoms may be treated with Parkinson’s disease medications but can cause potential side-effects.  Up to 50% of patients with LBD who are treated with antipsychotic medication may experience severe neuroleptic sensitivity.