Named after Friederich Lewy who first identified their presence in the brain of a patient in 1912, Lewy bodies are abnormal protein deposits that disrupt the normal functioning of the brain.
These protein deposits collect in the brain stem and inhibit the production of dopamine (a neurotransmitter that is involved in sending transmissions around the brain and rest of the body).
This can result in symptoms that may appear to indicate Parkinson’s disease – such as tremors or shaking, loss of movement and speech impairment.
In Lewy Body Dementia these protein deposits spread into the brain’s cerebral cortex where it disrupts and depletes the presence of a chemical called Acetylcholine.
This depletion in turn disrupts the general thinking, perception and behaviour of the sufferer.
As suggested above, Lewy bodies are responsible for several progressive brain-effecting disorders, which include Parkinson’s.
Like other types of dementia, Dementia with Lewy Bodies predominately affects people over the age of 65 (however it is not unheard of in younger people).
Because of the shared source of the disease the symptoms can often be present together, with many DLB sufferers developing motor problems.
The same is true vice versa – as many Parkinson’s sufferers will experience some cognitive impairment as the disease progress.
Unfortunately as with many types of this condition, Lewy Body Dementia is indiscriminate, with no known concrete cause or catalyst responsible for its development.
Research suggests that there are no risk factors that can be attributed to the development of Dementia with Lewy Bodies, and though there have been some findings and studies that suggest a genetic link, it is very rare.