Dementia is classified into four categories: Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia.
The third most common type, dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), accounts for 10-25 percent of cases.
There are some specific symptoms associated with the disease, but some of these signs are also seen in Parkinson’s dementia.
According to Alzheimer’s Research UK, there are six symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies to look out for.
The first is changes in alertness and attention, and periods of confusion, that may be unpredictable and change from hour-to-hour or day-to-day.
The disease can also cause movement problems – Parkinson’s-type symptoms such as slower movements, stiffness in the arms and legs, and shaking or trembling.
Visual hallucinations can also occur – seeing things that are not really there, for example, people or animals. These often happen repeatedly and are realistic and well-formed.
Sleep disturbances can happen – vivid dreams, shouting out or moving while sleeping which can disrupt sleep, and may cause injury.
Fainting, unsteadiness and falls can also be an indicator, and finally, problems with detecting smells can develop.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, early signs of dementia with Lewy bodies can include hunched posture, rigid muscles and problems with balance – all symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, so sufferers can be misdiagnosed.
Motion problems common for both illnesses including a shuffling walk and trouble initiating movement.
Other symptoms, such as a slow gait, changes in speech and loss of motivation, are also shared by both diseases.
The Alzheimer’s Association notes that there is no test to conclusively diagnose dementia with Lewy bodies. The diagnosis is DLB when dementia symptoms occur within one year of movement systems, or are present at the time of diagnosis.
Parkinson’s disease dementia is the diagnosis if a person is originally diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and dementia symptoms don’t appear until a year or more later.
The overlap is thought to be due to abnormalities in how the brain processes the protein alpha-synuclein. “Many people with both DLB and Parkinson’s dementia also have plaques and tangles — hallmark brain changes linked to Alzheimer’s disease,” the organisation states.
Researchers at the Weill Cornell Medicine centre, in New York, have found that eating the Mediterranean diet could protect against Alzheimer’s.
Following 70 patients over three years, they found that those eating a Western-style diet had a slower brain metabolism and increased number of Alzheimer’s signs in their brains than those who consumed the Mediterranean diet.
These included a 15 per cent increase in the build-up of plaques in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s for people eating the Western diet.
“This is a highly significant difference,” said Dr Lisa Mosconi, an associate Professor of neuroscience in neurology at the Medicine centre.
“We’re seeing these changes only in parts of the brain specifically affected by Alzheimer’s, and in relatively young people. It all points to the way we eat putting us at risk for Alzheimer’s down the line.
“If your diet isn’t balanced, you really need to make an effort to fix it, if not for your body, then for your brain.”
Published at Thu, 10 May 2018 18:37:00 +0000