A common type of progressive dementia, Lewy body dementia causes problems with memory and judgment, and patients can have confusion.
These cognitive changes result from abnormal protein formations called Lewy bodies. Lewy body dementia affects the outer layer of the brain called the cortex and an interior brain structure called the substantia nigra.
Healthy cells die in these regions of the brain, which affects normal functioning. Lewy bodies can appear in the cells that remain. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke noted that the protein found in Lewy bodies, called alpha-synuclein, is linked to other disorders, including Parkinson’s disease.
In addition to the cognitive problems, Lewy body dementia has three characteristics. The first characteristic is shifts in the patient’s level in alertness and attention. For example, the patient may have long periods of time in which she stares off into space or the patient may feel ...