A decline in intellectual function (dementia with Lewy bodies), a group of movement difficulties known as parkinsonism, visual hallucinations, rapid changes (fluctuations) in behavior and intellectual abilities, and enacting dreams while asleep are all symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies which is a condition of the nervous system (REM sleep behavior disorder). The average age of onset for this condition is between 50 and 85, making it a disease for older adults. People with dementia with Lewy bodies have a life expectancy of between 5 and 7 years, but it can be shorter or longer.
People with REM sleep behavior disorder are sometimes the first to notice that they have Lewy body dementia. It often develops before any other symptoms do. People with REM sleep behavior disorder often talk about and act out their dreams while they sleep. With dementia with Lewy bodies, this behavior gets less and less as other symptoms show up.
For those with dementia with Lewy bodies, dementia is often the second most prominent symptom to appear. This mental decline may start slowly or seem to come and go at first. People with dementia often have trouble with visual-spatial skills, like those needed to solve puzzles. People with this disorder may also have trouble communicating, low inhibitions, and poor executive functioning (the ability to solve problems). Memory issues usually do not manifest until adulthood.
Visual hallucinations are common in people with dementia with Lewy bodies and often involve people or other animals that don't exist. Short periods of altered awareness can cause staring spells, sudden changes in concentration, speech that is hard to understand, and other behavioral and cognitive changes.
Some people with dementia with Lewy bodies may experience the onset of Parkinsonism before the other primary symptoms. Movement disorders can cause many symptoms, such as tremors, stiffness, moving very slowly (bradykinesia), and having trouble keeping your balance and coordinating your movements (postural instability). Over time, those affected may need the help of a wheelchair or other mobility aids.
Orthostatic hypotension (a drop in blood pressure when the person stands up), syncope (passing out), a decreased sense of smell, increased saliva production and drooling, incontinence, and constipation have all been linked to dementia with Lewy bodies.
The average beginning of Lewy body dementia is between 50 and 85. Still, research from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) shows that it can happen to people outside of this age range. According to research published in 2013, the Mayo Clinic found that the most common age group for Lewy body dementia is 70–79. This type of dementia, known as Lewy body dementia, typically advances swiftly. The median survival time from diagnosis is five to seven years.
The chance of getting Lewy body dementia seems to depend on a person's genes and family history. The risk of developing Lewy body dementia is higher if you have a first-degree relative (such as a parent or sibling) who has the disorder or Parkinson's disease.
Mutations in the SNCA, SNCB, GBA, and APOE 4 genes are strongly associated with Lewy body dementia. However, these mutations do not guarantee you will develop Lewy body dementia or Parkinson's disease. However, Lewy body dementia typically occurs sporadically in people without known links to the disorder in their family tree.
Lewy body dementia is associated with hypertension (high blood pressure). Hypertension affects about 65% of those with Lewy body dementia. For its part, hypertension is associated with a 60.5% increased chance of developing Lewy body dementia.
One study found that the chance of developing Lewy body dementia is increased by 25% in people with type 2 diabetes. High cholesterol (hyperlipidemia) is another known risk factor for Lewy body dementia, raising it by about 25%.
The Final Verdict
It is reasonable to worry about getting Lewy body dementia if you have a family history of either Parkinson's disease or Lewy body dementia. Lewy body dementia shares the same lack of certainty in prevention as other forms of dementia.
Some risk factors for Lewy body dementia are under your control, while others are not. The precise origin of Lewy body dementia is still unknown, and whether any lifestyle adjustments can prevent or reduce the condition's progression is unclear.
But if you want to reduce your long-term risk of dementia, it's in your best interest to make healthy lifestyle adjustments (such as cutting down on cholesterol and blood pressure).