Dementia is the progressive loss of memory and various other mental functions, including the ability to:

  • Learn
  • Reason
  • Judge

Lewy body disease is caused by the build up of Lewy bodies. These are abnormal protein deposits inside brain cells that control certain aspects of memory and motor control. It is the second most common type of progressive dementia.

Brain Cells

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It is not clear exactly what causes the build up of Lewy bodies in the brain. But, Lewy body disease is linked to:

Risk Factors

These factors increase your chance of developing Lewy body disease. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:

  • Gender: male
  • Age: 53-83 years
  • Family history of Lewy body disease


Lewy body disease is characterized by:

  • Fluctuations in alertness and attention
    • Frequent drowsiness
    • Lethargy
    • Staring into space
    • Disorganized speech
    • Insomnia
  • Recurrent visual hallucinations
  • Poor regulation of body temperature and blood pressure
  • Obsessive compulsive behaviors
  • Forgetfulness
  • Parkinsonian motor symptoms
    • Rigidity
    • Loss of spontaneous movement
  • REM behavior disorder


The only way to diagnose Lewy body disease conclusively is through an autopsy . But, a doctor can do tests to narrow the cause of dementia. You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. The doctor will do a physical exam as well as other tests, such as:

  • Memory, language, and other tests
  • Neoropsychological tests
  • Patient and family interviews
  • CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the body
  • MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the body
  • Blood tests


While there is no cure, there are treatments that can control the symptoms. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:


These medications may be used to help with the symptoms:

  • Donepezil and rivastigmine —to help with cognition; may worsen motor symptoms
  • Levodopa—to help control rigidity and loss of spontaneous movement
  • Antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsants

If you have Lewy body disease, you may be particularly sensitive to medications called neuroleptics. You may have adverse events with these medications.

Other Treatments

You may benefit from:


There is no known way to prevent this condition.