What is DLB? How Common? How to Detect? Why Bother with a Diagnosis?

I’ve been reviewing the reports from the December 2015 International Dementia with Lewy Bodies conference.  This AlzForum report — which provides an excellent primer on DLB — is worth reading in full.


What was new to me from the report?

  • “Autopsy reports flag 10 to 15 percent of lifetime dementia cases as DLB.”  Based on this, I don’t know how we can say that Lewy Body Dementia is the second most common dementia among the elderly.
  • I learned that DLB affects four different types of neurons in the brain.
  • “Longitudinal MCI [mild cognitive impairment] studies have exposed a helpful dichotomy whereby amnestic MCI tends to progress to AD [Alzheimer’s Disease] and non-amnestic MCI to DLB.”

What wasn’t new to me but worth the reminder?

  • In a 2010 paper, “only 12 to 30 percent of past DLB cases were recognized even by clinicians at the federally funded network of Alzheimer’s centers.”
  • DLB most commonly co-occurs with Alzheimer’s pathology.  It is rarely seen with pure alpha-synuclein pathology.
  • The key reason to bother with a diagnosis is due to the risks of medications for someone with DLB.
  • Many DLB symptoms are quite treatable.  There’s a great chart on the “pros and cons of pharmacotherapy,” reviewing certain classes of medications and whether there’s optimism or caution for each class by symptom being treated.