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Can Lewy Body Dementia Kill You

Reversible Causes Of Dementia

What is dementia with Lewy bodies?

When the disease is caused by trauma or any degenerative diseases it is irreversible but in some cases it can be reversible when the cause of disease is a nutritional deficiency or the use of any particular drugs or abuse of alcohol. While the cause of the symptoms may be treatable in some cases, it is not guaranteed that it will be reversed if the underlying cause it addressed. Some of the causes of reversible dementia include the following:

  • Nutritional deficiencies:Vitamin B-1, B-6, B- 12 deficiency
  • Metabolic problems: Thyroid dysfunction, Depression
  • Normal pressure hydrocephalus: This is a condition in which excess cerebrospinal fluid builds up in the cavities in the brain that are meant to contain fluid. This excess fluid build-up increases the pressure on brain tissue.
  • Anticholinergic medications: This refers to a broad class of drugs that are used to treat a variety of conditions such as Parkinsons Disease as well as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and gastrointestinal disorders. Using these drugs for prolonged periods of time can cause toxicity to build up in the brain, ultimately manifesting in dementia.
  • Alcohol-induced cognitive impairment, long-time alcohol or illegal drug use
  • HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders

Tests For Dementia With Lewy Bodies

There’s no single test for dementia with Lewy bodies.

The following may be needed to make a diagnosis:

  • an assessment of symptoms for example, whether there are typical symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies
  • an assessment of mental abilities this will usually involve a number of tasks and questions
  • blood tests to rule out conditions with similar symptoms
  • brain scans, such as an MRI scan, CT scan or a SPECT scan these can detect signs of dementia or other problems with the brain

What Are The Signs Of Dementia

Common signs and symptoms of dementia include:

  • Problems with short-term memory
  • Trouble keeping track of personal items
  • Forgetfulness
  • Disorientation in familiar places

Dementia affects each person uniquely, so symptoms start and progress differently from individual to individual. If you suspect that your loved one is showing signs of dementia, it may be best to take them to see a doctor for an initial screening and check-up.

Because dementia heavily affects the brain, people often wonder, Is dementia fatal? Below weve compiled some of the top questions and answers about dementias effect on an individuals physical health.

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Steve did not have an autopsy. In many states, if the cause of death is apparent, as it was with Steve, an autopsy is not automatically performed. Steve, like Robin, suffered from depression, and he spiraled downward quickly starting in 2014. A few weeks before he died, Steve expressed to me that he was afraid, but he could not, or would not, articulate why. He was my rock, my Ironman, and he never had been afraid of anything before.

I am not a medical professional, and I wrote this column to inspire conversation about undiagnosed Lewy body dementia as a possible cause of suicide, as Shepherd concluded in the case of Robin Williams.

How Can You Recognise When A Person Is Dying

Are You Suffering From Lewy Body Dementia or Something Else?

Recognising when a person with advanced dementia is dying may not always be easy as they may have many general signs and symptoms of dying already. For example, some common signs and symptoms seen in people dying are:

  • profound weakness
  • needing assistance with all care
  • disorientation to time or place
  • agitated or restless
  • difficulty concentrating.

People with advanced dementia may show some of these signs and symptoms for months or even years making it hard to tell if the person is approaching death. However, if these symptoms become much worse over a period of two to three weeks, or even days or hours, it is important that a doctor or nurse sees the person. If the doctor or nurse thinks that the person is deteriorating or nearing the end of life and it would be in the persons best interest to be cared for in their own home, a care home or hospice then discuss this information with the persons family. They should also be given an explanation of why the deterioration is happening and the care that is going to be given. When death is expected it is usally not of benefit for the purpose with dementia to be sent to hospital: the death is more likely to be traumatic, unsupported and complicated by other medical events .

When the dying process is established, the person may experience further changes:

  • losing consciousness

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What Are The Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease

Symptoms of Parkinsons disease and the rate of decline vary widely from person to person. The most common symptoms include:

Other symptoms include:

  • Speech/vocal changes: Speech may be quick, become slurred or be soft in tone. You may hesitate before speaking. The pitch of your voice may become unchanged .
  • Handwriting changes: You handwriting may become smaller and more difficult to read.
  • Depression and anxiety.
  • Sleeping disturbances including disrupted sleep, acting out your dreams, and restless leg syndrome.
  • Pain, lack of interest , fatigue, change in weight, vision changes.
  • Low blood pressure.

Cognitive Symptoms Of Lewy Body Dementia

LBD causes changes in thinking abilities. These changes may include:

  • Visual hallucinations, or seeing things that are not present. Visual hallucinations occur in up to 80 percent of people with LBD, often early on. Nonvisual hallucinations, such as hearing or smelling things that are not present, are less common than visual ones but may also occur.
  • Unpredictable changes in concentration, attention, alertness, and wakefulness from day to day and sometimes throughout the day. Ideas may be disorganized, unclear, or illogical. These kinds of changes are common in LBD and may help distinguish it from Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Severe loss of thinking abilities that interfere with daily activities. Unlike in Alzheimer’s dementia, memory problems may not be evident at first but often arise as LBD progresses. Other changes related to thinking may include poor judgment, confusion about time and place, and difficulty with language and numbers.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Dementia

Dementia is set of signs and symptoms which vary greatly from case-to-case but generally include the following categories:

  • Cognitive symptoms: these include a deterioration in memory, reasoning skills, identity confusion, difficulty performing everyday tasks, language, coordination, planning and communication.
  • Psychological symptoms: Hallucination, agitation, depression, sleep disorder, delusions.
  • Behavioural symptoms: Mood swings, anxiety, repetitive behaviour, nervous ticks, changes in sleep pattern or appetite, irritability, a quick temper, aggression.
  • Physical symptoms: muscular movements, weakness or weight loss often as a result of aforementioned changes in appetite and sleep patterns.

Clinical History And Testing

Living with Lewy Body Dementia – Mayo Clinic

Diagnostic tests can be used to establish some features of the condition and distinguish them from symptoms of other conditions. Diagnosis may include taking the person’s medical history, a physical exam, assessment of neurological function, testing to rule out conditions that may cause similar symptoms, brain imaging, neuropsychological testing to assess cognitive function,sleep studies, or myocardial scintigraphy. Laboratory testing can rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms, such as abnormal thyroid function, syphilis, HIV, or vitamin deficiencies that may cause symptoms similar to dementia.

If DLB is suspected when parkinsonism and dementia are the only presenting features, PET or SPECT imaging may show reduced dopamine transporter activity. A DLB diagnosis may be warranted if other conditions with reduced dopamine transporter uptake can be ruled out.

Since 2001, 123iodinemetaiodobenzylguanidinemyocardialscintigraphy has been used diagnostically in East Asia , but not in the US. MIBG is taken up by sympathetic nerve endings, such as those that innervate the heart, and is labeled for scintigraphy with radioactive 123iodine. Autonomic dysfunction resulting from damage to nerves in the heart in patients with DLB is associated with lower cardiac uptake of 123I-MIBG.

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How Do You Die From Dementia

Even though immediate death from dementia or Alzheimers is unlikely, dementia-related diseases often contribute to other factors that can lead to death. Like dementia itself, these factors are usually progressive and develop slowly over time. And though theres no cure for dementia, there are ways to care for a loved one with these conditions so they can live as long and pain-free as possible.

Alzheimers is a specific form of dementia, so How do you die from dementia? and How do you die from Alzheimers? are closely related. Heres how Dementia can contribute to a loved one passing.

Signs Of Parkinsons Disease

In 1817, Dr. James Parkinson published An Essay on the Shaking Palsy describing non-motor, as well as, motor symptoms of the illness that bears his name. Parkinsons is not just a movement disorder, explained Dr. Shprecher. Constipation, impaired sense of smell, and dream enactment can occur years before motor symptoms of Parkinsons. The latter, caused by a condition called REM sleep behavior disorder, is a very strong risk factor for both Parkinsons and dementia . This has prompted us to join a consortium of centers studying REM sleep behavior disorder.

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Signs And Stages Of Dementia

Early Signs

In the early stages of dementia, subtle signs begin to present themselves. The person might lose their keys more often, forget directions when driving, or show mood swings. It can often be overlooked and unnoticed as simple ditziness or having an off day.

It can be hard to diagnose dementia in the earlier stages. According to the Global Deterioration Scale , dementia experts express the need for updated testing as its much better for the individual, caregivers, and family members to catch dementia earlier on. It can be confusing to pinpoint the onset of dementia as it often occurs with co-existing conditions, such as a stroke or physical disease.

Top traits of the early phase of dementia include:

  • Confusion when trying to arrange difficult thoughts or tasks

Mid -Stage

As dementia progresses, the middle stage shows more severe signs of the beginning stage. The person will likely begin forgetting peoples names, faces, and their relationship to them. This relationship memory gap can come and go at different times, depending on the day.

They may also get easily lost in places like their local grocery store, nursing home, or even their own house. Communication can become an issue as they struggle to find the right words to express what they want to say. Major behavioral changes can occur, such as an introvert becoming suddenly extroverted and risk-seeking, or a nurturing friend becoming hostile toward peers.

Characteristics of mid-stage dementia:

Health Conditions And Dementia

Ways You Can Support Lewy Body Dementia Research

Patients may have both chronic and progressive conditions because of dementia problems. These include vascular dementia, Alzheimer problem and dementia with Lewy bodies. This indicates that conditions of any patient become worse steadily.

However, the rate, at which this situation takes place and related effects on the patients life expectancy depend on different factors. These are exact type of dementia suffered by any person, exact cause of the problem, overall health and an individuals lifestyle.

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What Is Lewy Body Dementia

Lewy body dementia is a progressive disease that involves having abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain. These deposits are called Lewy bodies, and they affect chemicals in the brain. Those changes, in turn, can lead to problems with thinking, movement, behavior and mood. LBD is one of the most common causes of dementia, after Alzheimers disease and vascular disease.

There are two types of Lewy body dementia dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinsons disease dementia. The early signs of these two types of LBD can be different, but they reflect the same biological brain changes. Dementia with Lewy bodies starts out with a decline in thinking ability that may look somewhat like Alzheimers disease. Parkinsons disease dementia begins as a movement disorder with symptoms like slowed movement, muscle stiffness, tremors and a shuffling walk. As time goes on, someone with dementia with Lewy bodies and someone with Parkinsons disease dementia tend to have similar LBD symptoms.

Lewy bodoy dementia is believed to be a cousin to Alzheimers or Parkinsons disease given the following facts:

  • Lewy bodies contain a protein associated with Parkinsons disease.
  • Lewy bodies often are present in the brains of people with Parkinsons disease, Alzheimers disease and other dementias.
  • People who have Lewy bodies in their brains also have the plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimers disease.

Why Is It So Unknown

Doctors only recognized LBD as a distinct disease about 20 years ago, and it remains something of a mystery. Researchers like Galvin continue to study the problem. However, funding is an issue.

Last year, while the National Institutes of Health spent $140 million on research for Parkinsons disease and close to $600 million on Alzheimers, the agency only invested $15 million on LBD.

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Coping With Cognitive Changes

Some medications used to treat Alzheimer’s disease also may be used to treat the cognitive symptoms of LBD. These drugs, called cholinesterase inhibitors, act on a chemical in the brain that is important for memory and thinking. They may also improve hallucinations, apathy, and delusions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved one Alzheimer’s drug, rivastigmine, to treat cognitive symptoms in Parkinson’s disease dementia. Several other drugs are being tested as possible treatments for LBD symptoms or to disrupt the underlying disease process.

Lack Of Family Understanding

What is Lewy Body Disease?

Multiple participants described challenges arising from family member lack of understanding. Physician validation of accurate assessments was particularly important in these circumstances.

We had weekly conference calls with my mother, my sister, and I. I would go down to the unit and sit with the doctor and the social worker and then we would all be on a call together. And he would describe what was going on and- and my mother said, “Well, is explaining this, but I think she’s just being dramatic.” And the doctor said, “No, she’s being really accurate of what’s taking place now.

In hindsight, I really wish that, at the very beginning, at the get-go of when things started to unravel and go down the steep decline, when we started hospice, I wish that we had done a conference call.had the hospice doctor explain to all of my siblings what was going on with her, where she was at, what to expect, timeframe, that kinda thingInstead, you know, I get the information and itsas a caregiver, youre already extremely like fatigued and its hard, hard to remember all that. And its just overwhelming. And so, it would have been better, I think, had we done that. I had a sibling that was in denial that my mom was gonna die. You know, it would havethat would have just helped to say yes, this is true.

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Stage Five: Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline

Stage five is marked by moderately severe cognitive decline. Individuals in this stage often have notable memory loss and begin to struggle with daily activities. Significant details such as address or phone number may be difficult to recall, and those with stage five dementia will likely need assistance with tasks such as meal preparation and bathing.

Lewy Body Dementia: Unrecognized And Misdiagnosed

Lewy body dementia is what killed Robin, Susan told ABC News. Its what took his life and thats what I spent the last year trying to get to the bottom of, what took my husbands life.

Susan explained that it was during Williams autopsy that a coroner found signs of Lewy body dementia , and doctors who analyzed the autopsy report told her it was one of the most severe cases they had ever seen.

But why was his condition not spotted earlier? After all, LBD is the second most common form of progressive dementia, affecting around 1.3 million Americans, mostly those aged 65 and older.

Despite its prevalence, however, the disease is also the most misdiagnosed form of dementia.

According to the Lewy Body Dementia Association , its takes an average of three doctors and more than 18 months to correctly diagnose LBD. Most doctors fail to recognize the signs of LBD the symptoms are very similar to Alzheimers disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinsons disease.

In this Spotlight, we take a look at what LBD is, the signs and symptoms of the disease, the treatment options, why the condition is so frequently misdiagnosed, and what is being done to raise awareness of this potentially devastating condition.

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Faith Hill Opens Up About Losing Her Father To Lewy Body Dementia

Country star Faith Hill recently opened up about what it was like to see her late father suffer from dementia. In the interview, published in People magazine on Thursday, Hill shared how her husband helped her get through the difficult times before, during, and after her dads death in 2019 following a long battle with Lewy body dementia that rendered him unrecognizable.

It was a long passing, Hill said of losing her father Ted Perry to the common form of progressive dementia. Its difficult to lose parents just a couple of years apart and watch them pass right in front of you, said Hill, 54, who also lost her mother Edna back in 2016. My dad had Lewy body dementia and it was difficult to watch a man you know be someone that you dont recognize.

Hill says that as her dad battled his disease, she leaned heavily on her husband of 25 years, fellow country musician Tim McGraw. My dad adored Tim and Tim would visit him daily, Hill told People. McGraw was also a major source of emotional support around the time Hills mom died five years ago. He was so present for the passing of both my parents, Hill said. The singer believes that enduring those challenges together only strengthened and deepened her bond with her husband. You reveal yourself when you are going through struggles and thats just another layer of partnership, Hill explained.

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