Dementia with Lewy bodies, or “Lewy Body Dementia”; is one of a group of brain disorders called “dementia”. Dementia is a general term for loss of memory, language and problem solving skills that affect the ability to function in everyday life. Lewy Body Dementia is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease.
It is estimated that Lewy Body Dementia accounts for up to 25 % of all types of dementia. It is likely that up to 10,000 people have the condition in the Republic of Ireland. The average age of diagnosis is mid 70s but the symptoms can be present in people as early as in their forties. Although the prognosis can vary from person to person, life expectancy from onset of cognitive symptoms is eight years on average.
The cause of Lewy Body Dementia is not known. It gets its name from a build-up of protein in brain cells called “Lewy bodies”. Lewy bodies are also seen in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease, which is a brain disorder that affects movement. In people with Lewy Body Dementia, the Lewy bodies are more widely spread throughout the brain than in people with Parkinson’s disease.