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Link Between Parkinson’s Disease, Lewy Bodies, And Dementia

Link Between Parkinson's Disease, Lewy Bodies, And Dementia

Parkinson’s disease affects memory, whereas protein accumulates in the brain and affects its function, causing dementia. This accumulation of protein causes Lewy bodies that also occur in Alzheimer’s disease.

In Parkinson’s disease, the nerve cells get affected in a specific brain area known as substantia nigra; however, it happens slowly. These nerve cells control movements and other body-related functions. The damage of nerve cells causes serious issues, including dopamine depletion.

Nearly one million people in the United States have Parkinson’s disease, declared by Parkinson’s foundation. Researchers believe that this figure will become up to 1.2 million by 2030. Experts also say that this disease is 1.5 times more in males than in females; however, the reason is unknown.

Signs Of Parkinson’s Disease

You can identify Parkinson’s disease through different symptoms that appear gradually. Initially, even the patient does not know if he or she has this disease. Let’s look at some common signs.

  • Limb hardness
  • Tremors, including pin rolling
  • Lack of body balance
  • Walking issues
  • Slow movement or bradykinesia

Types Of Parkinson’s Disease

The disease falls into different categories, depending on certain factors. Let’s explore them to understand Parkinson’s better.

Vascular Parkinson’s disease: the issue occurs due to minor strokes, increasing the intensity of an already present Parkinson’s.

Idiopathic: in general, most Parkinson’s patients suffer from this type. The name idiopathic refers to a disease with an unknown cause.

Drug-related Parkinson’s: some antidepressants also cause Parkinson’s, including antipsychotic medications. The disease disappears in a few weeks or sometimes months after the patient stops taking these drugs. However, the disease may continue in rarer cases.

Other Parkinson’s Related Issues

Parkinson’s sometimes causes certain disorders, such as atypical Parkinsonian. According to experts, 15% of Parkinson’s patients develop them, and they occur due to the accumulation of protein in the brain. Besides, certain changes may occur in different body organs. The below section will highlight these issues.

DLB, or dementia-related Lewy bodies: In this condition, protein lumps clutter the brain.

PSP or progressive supranuclear palsy: It occurs due to an atypical type of Parkinson’s. You will see it in those in their 60s or above, and it happens due to tau protein that builds up in the brain.

MSA or multiple system atrophy: It occurs in the mid-50s and causes an abnormal accumulation of alpha-synuclein.

CBS or corticobasal syndrome: It is a rare disorder that occurs after the 60s. Initially, it attacks the limb and then other body parts.

What Is Lewy Body Dementia?

The word dementia is not new and refers to memory loss at a late age. Around 50 to 80% of Parkinson’s patients get dementia, researched by Alzheimer’s Association. In dementia, the brain’s cognitive function gets slow, resulting in weak memory, behavioral issues, and lack of focus.

According to the WHO, 50 million people have dementia worldwide. Besides, 10 million new dementia patients appear each year. Excessive protein in the brain known as Lewy bodies harms the brain, causing dementia.

The symptoms of Lewy body dementia are similar to Parkinson’s disease, such as movement issues, memory loss, and abnormal behaviors. Doctors diagnose Lewy dementia in two ways, including PDD and DLB, as described below.

Understanding PDD, Parkinson’s Disease Dementia

If a patient develops a cognitive disorder after a year of developing Parkinson’s, the doctors diagnose it as PDD. The symptoms can vary from time to time, becoming mild to intense. A person with PDD have to face the following issues;

  • Memory loss
  • Poor problem-solving ability
  • Poor speech
  • Forgetting things and events
  • Lack of focus

A PDD patient needs professional help when the disease starts affecting his or her life. Like, the patient is unable to take care of himself and can’t complete ordinary tasks.

Diagnosing DLB, Dementia-Related Lewy Bodies

When the patient develops cognitive issues and motor symptoms, the doctors declare it DLB. But, the symptoms are either common or not so common, depending on the condition. A patient suffering from DLB shows some common symptoms, such as;

  • Tremors or body shaking
  • Confusion and understanding issues
  • A slow body movement,  especially walking issues
  • Poor sleep, and yelling or hitting during sleep
  • Intense visual hallucinations
  • Lack of attention
  • Anxiety or depression

Not so common DLB symptoms include:

  • Frequent constipation
  • Sometimes fainting
  • Frequent falls
  • Sound hallucinations
  • Incontinence issue
  • Demotivation and low self-esteem
  • Lack of interest in life

The Link between Lewy Bodies and Parkinson’s Disease

Dementia caused by Parkinson’s disease affects a person’s thinking and reasoning ability. As we already explained that Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases are brain disorders and Lewy bodies are their main elements. It causes hard muscles, poor posture, and lack of movement.

Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia symptoms are similar that depict their link to the brain’s ability to process the alpha-synuclein. It is hard to check the Lewy bodies through tests; however, researchers should find their impacts through postpartum.

Getting Blood Tests

These tests help detect any physical issue that affects the brain. An underactive thyroid or a deficiency in vitamin B12 also causes dementia.

Brain Scanning

It consists of a CT scan or MRI, and it is essential during strokes. The tests help to find a tumor or blood clot in the brain. If these tests don’t work, the doctor may proceed with other imaging tests, including the PET brain scan or PET imaging, to see the intensity of the dopamine transporter.

Diagnosis Through A Heart Test

In some cases, the doctor may suggest myocardial scintigraphy, a heart test. It helps see the blood flow to the heart, which, if abnormal, may cause Lewy body dementia.

Risk Factors Of Lewy Body Dementia

Certain factors enhance the development of Lewy body dementia, such as age, sex, and family history. Like, we already mentioned that Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia affect men more than women. Likewise, if any of your parents or a close family member has Parkinson’s disease or dementia, you are likely to have it in the future.

How To Deal With Dementia

Dementia is hard to cure, but certain medications can reduce its intensity. Moreover, health care professionals, including therapists, can easily help a dementia patient follow certain strategies to do daily tasks or home errands easily.

The Role Of Medication In Dementia

Multiple drugs are in practice, and the doctors suggest them according to a patient’s condition. Let’s look at them in detail.

Doctors often prescribe antipsychotics for dementia to reduce behavioral issues. Like, haloperidol is a common drug in this case.

Another drug includes cholinesterase inhibitors, such as Exelon or rivastigmine. These drugs enhance memory by reducing the breakdown of acetylcholine that controls memory.

If the dementia patient has sleep problems, the doctor may suggest clonazepam. This drug enhances sleep through mental relaxation.

In the case of Lewy body dementia, the doctor may prescribe levodopa to reduce the motor symptoms.

Role Of Professionals In Dementia

Whatever kind of dementia you suffer from, a complete team of caregivers and professionals can greatly support you. The care team should consist of;

Brain specialists or neurologists: they help cure brain-related issues like dementia. The specialist examines the patient’s walking ability, reflexes, body movements, eye movement, muscle strength, and body balance.

Mental health experts: Include therapists who help dementia patients understand their disease and learn how to live with it. Generally, the specialist assesses a patient’s memory in different ways. The doctor evaluates results by comparing them with people of the same age having a normal memory.

Physical therapy specialists: They are also known as physical therapists who treat Parkinson’s and dementia patients to enhance mobility. Different exercises improve a patient’s body movement; moreover, stroke patients also need such specialists.

Speech and language specialists: they help patients to swallow or speak. Such people lose these abilities due to a stroke, Parkinson’s disease, or Lewy bodies.

Occupational therapists: they help patients change their environment. The therapist also helps patients improve their eating habits or bathing tasks.

Family Support

If anyone in your family has dementia, be polite with him or her. Instead of getting angry, you should love such patients. You should participate with them in different activities that can improve their memory. Several support groups are also available in this case.


Dementia is a brain illness that affects memory, and it happens by certain brain disorders. Lewy bodies are protein lumps that develop in the brain affecting its cognitive function and cause dementia. Doctors can perform multiple tests to identify the type of dementia, including Parkinson’s disease dementia and Lewy bodies dementia. The exact cause is unknown, and both dementia types are complicated.

Different ways can help health professionals diagnose these diseases. Whatever type, it is hard to cure dementia, but certain strategies can reduce its intensity. A complete care team is necessary to help a person with dementia live a normal life. Likewise, family support can help a person cope with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy bodies.

Written by HealthRadar360

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