Abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain are known causes of Lewy body dementia (LBD). The deposits, known as Lewy bodies, affect chemicals in the brain, and can lead to alterations in mood, behavior and thinking.
So, how does this compare with Alzheimer’s disease?
Lewy Body Dementia
Lewy body dementia is one of most common causes of dementia, according to nia.nih.gov. Early signs of LBD can be confused with Alzheimer’s or even schizophrenia. LBD can either develop over time alone or in combination with other brain disorders.
There are two separate diagnoses of LBD. One is dementia with Lewy bodies, while the other is Parkinson’s disease dementia. Usually, over time individuals with either diagnosis will develop similar symptoms.
LBD is a progressive disease, which means it takes a long time for symptoms to develop and eventually worsen over time. The typical time span from diagnosis to death is 5 to 8 years, but data shows that a range of 2 to 20 years is possible.
Alzheimer’s disease, just like LBD, affects thinking, behavior and memory. This is the most common of dementia, which is a generic term for memory loss. Alzheimer’s has been proven to cause up to 80% of all dementia cases, according to alz.org.
The majority of individuals that suffer from Alzheimer’s are aged 65 and above, but this is not simply something that affects older citizens. Like LBD, Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease with symptoms worsening over time.
What Are The Differences Between Lewy Body Dementia And Alzheimer’s?
Here are some of the main differences between LBD and Alzheimer’s:
- Physical Movements
- Sleep Behavior
- Facial Expressions
- Progression Of The Disease
LBD is caused by the buildup of Lewy body proteins in the brain, while Alzheimer’s occurs when amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles within the brain.
These two disorders differ in that one has many more known cases than the other. There are currently more than 5.5 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s. That’s compared to just 1.4 million diagnosed with LBD.
One of the earliest signs of LBD is actually walking difficulty or struggling to balance. Alzheimer’s does not cause any physical deterioration, though.
While both LBD and Alzheimer’s are known to cause confusion, memory lapses do not vary much from day to day with Alzheimer’s. LBD, though, can cause an individual’s memory to vary wildly from one day to the next.
People with LBD can experience REM sleep behavior disorder. This is a dysfunction where individuals physically act out their dreams. This disorder does not typically occur to anyone battling Alzheimer’s.
Visual hallucinations are actually quite common with LBD. While hallucinations will occur to someone with Alzheimer’s, it is not nearly as common as it is with LBD.
Individuals with LBD tend to show very little emotion in their faces. This tendency will not develop until the middle or late stages of Alzheimer’s.
Progression Of The Disease
Studies have shown the survival rate after diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is typically 8.4 years. Survival rate after diagnosis of LBD is an average of 7.3 years.
Men have a higher chance of developing LBD, yet women have a higher chance of developing Alzheimer’s.
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