Lewy Body Dementia

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

While this blog strives to clarify the daily news about brain health, sometimes it serves best by simply "emphasizing" the news about brain health. A very well reported article about Lewy Body Dementia, published in the The New Old Age blog of the NYTimes, is worthy of such emphasis today.

Like Alzheimer's disease, Lewy Body disease is a debilitating brain disorder that impairs cognition and leads to dementia. However, because the symptoms are similar, it is often mis-diagnosed as Alzheimer's disease, and subsequently mis-treated.

A key difference between the two diseases is in their most typical initial symptoms: short term memory disruptions are most typical in Alzheimer's disease, whereas executive function (completing complex tasks) and visual/spatial abilities are most commonly the first impairments noted in Lewy Body disease.

Along with low awareness of Lewy Body disease, symptomatic similarities to Alzheimer's disease are two drivers of mis-diagnosis. Making matters worse, other common symptoms, such as rigidity and altered gait, sometimes lead to mis-diagnoses as Parkinson's disease.

Hopefully, with growing awareness and the formation of organizations like the Lewy Body Dementia Association, clinical efforts to correctly diagnose and treat this disease will continue to gain efficacy.

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