Introduction commonly known for. Dementia with Lewy bodies,

Introduction

Alzheimer’s
and Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) are two separate but similar conditions. Alzheimer’s damages
the hippocampus, which alters the brain’s ability to store memories which
causes memory loss, the symptom the disease is most commonly known for.  Dementia with Lewy bodies, on the other hand,
affects different functions of the brain, specifically the ability to reason and
solve problems.
Although there are tests that can be taken out to more conclusively determine if
a patient has these conditions, in general, both Alzheimer’s and DLB are
diagnosed through observation and tracking the progression of a patients behaviour
and symptoms.

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Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB)

Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is a progressive type
of dementia that can go from confusion and different behaviour/ways
of thinking to a complete decline
in thinking, responding normal behaviour, reasoning
and eventually
normal, independent function in everyday situations. DLB is detected by the abnormal masses of proteins
building up into deposits known as Lewy
bodies. This protein, however, is also associated with Parkinson’s disease and Parkinson’s
dementia disease, which can cause difficulties when diagnosing a patient.
People who have Lewy bodies in
their brains often also have the plaques and tangles associated with
Alzheimer’s disease.  Plaques and tangles can cause
major tissue loss and the death of cells in the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient. Plaques are unusual clumps of “sticky” proteins called
beta-amyloid that build up around and in-between nerve cells.

Symptoms of DLB

DLB patients often
have a common symptom of becoming randomly confused about their
location or actions and they may not understand what
they are doing and/or their surroundings during the day. They
can possibly become panicked or frightened easily and be more alert than
usual. Another main symptom of DLB is a change in the way someone thinks, talks
or acts. Like most DLB symptoms, this change is not always easy to pick up
on at first however it becomes more noticeable as the
condition becomes more severe. This pattern is also seen in
hallucinations patients are known to experience, they often start out a small
figments of the imagination, such as animals, and progressively worsen into
complete delusions with the patients believing that certain aspects of their
lives are completely different to reality. The disease also has mutual symptoms
with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Someone suffering from DLB may experience
a different or unusual posture, stiff or sore muscles and problems staying
stable and balancing, much like many Parkinson’s patients. Alzheimer’s most well-known
symptom is memory loss and this symptom is also present in DLB patients. Though
not often as severe as that of Alzheimer’s patients, sufferers can experience
memory loss as both diseases damage the hippocampus, the part of the brain that
stores information as memories. This can also lead to patients being unable to understand
viual information.

Diagnosis

Similar to other
types of dementia there
is not one completely accurate, individual test that can determine the presence
of DLB nor a definitive cure. Currently, DLB is a clinical diagnosis, meaning it
is based on the doctor’s judgement and what condition they believe the patient
to have the traits/symptoms of. The only way to conclusively and definitively
diagnose DLB is after a patient has died through an examination of the body.
Which is only partially useful as obviously doctors need to be able to diagnose
the disease while the patient is alive so they can begin treatment

Many scientists and
doctors believe that DLB and Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD) branch off from
the same problems but develop separately, due to their similarities. However, it
is important that they are diagnosed separately for now so patients can follow
the most efficient path of treatment until more advanced cures and diagnosis
methods are developed. Doctors will diagnose patients with DLB when the
symptoms are clearly present and have developed about a year or less after the
movement function symptoms shared with Parkinson’s, as those symptoms are
usually present before the rest.

Scientists haven’t found any
clear causes of DLB.Nearly all patients diagnosed lack genetic links to the
disease and have an average lifestyle and average health. The patients that
have been recorded have different genders, lifestyles, ethnicities and standards
of living that share little to no correlation, however the disease is more
common in those that are middle-aged and above.

 

Prognosis

DLB has no cure and there
are no existing treatments that can slow down or prevent the brain cell damage
caused by DLB; it is a progressive, life shortening disease.  Current strategies focus on utilising
medicines to help alleviate/manage symptoms.