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Press Release

National Health Association Helps Doctors Make Sense Of "Dementia Divide"

LBD, the Second Most Common Progressive Dementia after Alzheimer's

PR Newswire

ATLANTA, March 10, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, for Brain Awareness Week, March 10-16, 2014, the Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA), calls attention to critical differences in dementia-causing disorders that may have potentially life-saving implications.  Lewy body dementia (LBD) is the most misdiagnosed form of dementia and, following Alzheimer's disease, is the second most common cause of progressive dementia.  It is a brain disorder that affects 1.3 million Americans, impairs thinking, movement, sleep and behavior (causing people to hallucinate or act out dreams, sometimes violently).  Also, it affects autonomic body functions, such as blood pressure control, temperature regulation, and digestion. 

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"Primary care physicians may not recognize cognitive impairment in up to 76 percent of people with any form of dementia or probable dementia," says Angela Taylor, director of programs, Lewy Body Dementia Association.  "Sadly, most people remain misdiagnosed.  This is especially true in LBD and leaves families unprepared for potential crisis situations."

Recognizing symptoms early can ensure individuals get appropriate treatment and caregivers get much needed support.  Because people with LBD respond differently to certain treatments used in its "cousins," Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, physicians recommend a cautious approach to therapy.  In particular, up to 50 percent of people with LBD treated with any antipsychotic medication may experience dangerous side effects or potentially fatal symptoms of neuroleptic malignant syndrome.

Lewy body dementia, a complex, challenging, and surprisingly common brain disease, refers to two related diagnoses:  Parkinson's disease dementia (PDD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).  The difference is in the presentation of two specific symptoms based on the "one-year rule."   With DLB, cognitive symptoms that interfere with daily living appear before or within a year of movement problems resembling Parkinson's disease.   With PDD, disabling cognitive symptoms do not develop until more than a year after movement problems begin.  

Lewy body dementia (LBD) is characterized by an abnormal buildup of Lewy bodies (alpha-synuclein protein deposits) in the areas of the brain that regulate behavior, memory, movement and personality.  The most prominent symptoms of Parkinson's disease affect motor abilities.  Alzheimer's disease primarily affects learning and memory.  What complicates diagnosis is that some people may have changes in the brain from more than one memory disorder.

Education about LBD is urgently needed.  The Lewy Body Dementia Association offers a range of information, resources and support, including a Diagnostic Checklist of LBD symptoms for individuals with LBD and caregivers to facilitate discussions with their doctor.  For hospital-based physicians, LBDA provides information and tools about emergency treatment of psychosis in LBD.

The Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of Lewy body dementias (LBD), supporting people with LBD, their families and caregivers, and promoting scientific advances.  LBD, a complex disease that can present with a range of physical, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms, is a "family disease."  It dramatically affects not only the person diagnosed but also the primary caregiver.  Through outreach, education and research, LBDA supports all those affected by Lewy body dementias.  To learn more about LBD and LBDA, please visit

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SOURCE Lewy Body Dementia Association

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