Lewy Body Disease

Lewy body disease is a type of dementia. Dementia is the progressive loss of memory and various other mental functions, including the ability to learn, reason and judge.

Lewy Body dementia patients and their families can feel confident turning to our Memory and Aging Care Clinic in the Adult Neurology Clinic for advanced diagnosis and treatment.

What Causes Lewy Body Disease?

Lewy body disease results from the buildup of Lewy bodies in regions of the brain. These are abnormal protein deposits inside cells that play a role in certain aspects of memory, visual processing and motor control.

The cause of the build up is unknown, but we do know the disease occurs more commonly in men and in people over 50 years old. It's also more common in people with a family history of Lewy body disease, Parkinson's disease or other dementias.

The disease is linked to:

  • Parkinson's disease
  • Multiple system atrophy
  • Alzheimer's disease

Symptoms of Lewy Body Disease

Lewy body disease symptoms include:

  • Fluctuations in alertness and attention
  • Recurrent visual hallucinations
  • Poor regulation of body temperature and blood pressure
  • Obsessive compulsive behaviors
  • Forgetfulness
  • Parkinson motor symptoms, such as rigidity or loss of spontaneous movement
  • REM sleep behavior disorder

Diagnosing Lewy Body Disease

Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, conduct a physical exam and take your medical history. You may take tests to narrow the cause of dementia, including:

  • Memory, language and other cognitive tests
  • Neuropsychological tests
  • Patient and family interviews
  • Blood tests
  • Imaging tests take pictures of internal bodily structures. This can be done with:
    • CT scan
    • MRI scan
    • SPECT scan

The only way to confirm Lewy body disease is through an autopsy.

Treating the Symptoms

No cure exists for Lewy body disease, but treatments can control symptoms. 

You may benefit from:

  • Medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage
  • Exercise
  • Music
  • Aromatherapy


Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.