Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) Q & A

Do I Have LBD?

I am a sixty-one year old male. My father died from LBD a few years back and I spent considerable time with him before he passed. I am starting to be concerned that my recent symptoms resemble that of my fathers after he was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia (LBD). Specifically, I have noticed that I am talking in my sleep and even acting out physical movements in my sleep. My short-term memory has taken a dive, and my partner has told me that my behavior has been aggressive which is not typical behavior for me. Finally, I am going through long bouts of depression with occasional confusion.

How Common Is LBD?

Even though there are over 1 million Americans officially diagnosed with LBD, there are probably many more that actually have the disease but the condition goes undiagnosed.

Why Does LBD Go Undiagnosed?

LBD is one of the most under-diagnosed conditions due to the fact that LBD symptoms resemble other forms of neural diseases, specifically Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Short of having a brain biopsy, there is no blood, laboratory, or imaging test that can conclusively confirm LBD. It is a clinical diagnosis, based on a constellation of symptoms.

LBD is a hybrid brain disorder that resembles symptoms commonly associated with Alzheimer’s (decline of cognitive function, short and long term memory loss, confusion, disorientation, hallucinations….) and Parkinson’s disease (motor function deficits such as rigidity in movement shaking and tremors, slow and incomplete movements…)

What Causes LBD?

LBD has it own neuropathic identity. In LBD patients there is the presence of abnormal protein deposits found not only in the brainstem, but also throughout other areas of the brain including the cerebral cortex – that part of our brain that manages abstract thinking and reasoning.

What Are The Risk Factors Associated With LBD?

There are three major risk factors but I wouldn’t jump to conclusions even if you have all three. This is because the risk factors are so general. The only specific risk factor, genetic disposition, is now being scientifically questioned in recent research studies, some of which report there is little to no evidence to support such a linkage.

1. Age: Being older than 60

2. Gender: Being male

3. Parent with LBD or Parkinson’s disease

What Are The Symptoms Of Lewy Body Dementia?

  • Dizziness, falls, constipation
  • Change in blood pressure
  • Altered and inconsistent digestive patterns
  • Visual and sense hallucinations
  • Hallucinations include seeing people, animals and shapes.
  • Movement disorders including rigidity of upper and lower extremities
  • Movements can be slowed, tremor, loss of balance, shuffling, falling
  • Memory loss and disorientation
  • Deficits in thinking and reasoning skills, confusion, poor attention span, visual and spatial confusion, staring into space for long periods of time
  • Disruptive and irregular sleep patterns
  • Feeling tired all the time, talking, laughing and crying in your sleep, including physically acting out your dreams in a state of lucid sleep
  • Depression and loss of motivation

Are There Drugs That Can Slow The  Progression Or Reduce LBD Symptoms?

There is no cure for LBD. Certain drugs have been known to help such as antidepressants like Zoloft and anxiety medication like Clonazepam (Klonopin). Also if the condition is caught early enough, there are treatments that could improve ones quality of life.

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Is LBD Fatal?

Yes, ones life span is about eight years once the symptoms begin to surface. It can develop over the course of one or two years before its symptoms manifest for purposes of formulating a clinical diagnose of LBD.


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