Causes of Dementia: Lewy Body Disease



Did you know that while Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, it is not the only cause of dementia? There are between 50 and 90 different causes of dementia and Lewy Body Disease is one of them. In fact, it is thought to be the third most common cause, following Alzheimer's disease and Vascular dementia.


“Alzheimer’s disease may be the most common cause of dementia but a significant portion of the people that we work with are actually living with Lewy Body dementia,” says Dr. Wenda MacDonald, ASNS Manager of Client Services/Research Liaison. “We have people living with Lewy Body dementia participating in almost of all our programs right now.”


This form of dementia can appear on its own or along with Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, and accounts for 5-15 per cent of all types of dementias. Unlike other dementias, it is more commonly found in men.


Did you know that 72 per cent of Canadians living with Alzheimer's disease are women?


Lewy Body dementia is associated with protein deposits, called Lewy bodies, which have developed inside the brain’s nerve cells. These Lewy bodies usually affect the part of the brain that controls both thinking and moving.


Symptoms that can occur with Lewy Body disease include: movement problems, changes in cognitive (thinking) ability, fluctuations in attention and alertness, hallucinations, symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease, and many of the other symptoms of dementia. For a list of the ten most common signs of dementia, click here.


Treatment for Lewy Body dementia varies from person to person and oftentimes consists of treatment of its individual symptoms rather than the disease as a whole. As the cause and cure are still unknown, the course of treatment can include a combination of medications, different types of therapy and counseling that are tailored to suit the individual. People with Lewy Body Disease are also often particularly sensitive to some drugs. This makes it all the more important that a person with this disease be monitored by their health care provider.


“Please call us if you have any questions,” says MacDonald. “We may be called the Alzheimer Society but we’re here to help people living with any type of dementia.”

You can learn more about Lewy Body dementia, its causes, treatments and diagnostic options by visiting this page or calling InfoLine, our confidential telephone service, at 1-800-611-6345.