What Is The Link Between Parkinsons And Lewy Body Dementia
Being Patient: Are Parkinsons disease and Lewy body dementia related?
Dag Aarsland: Yes, theyre related in terms of symptoms and the brain changes. Many scientists consider Parkinsons and Lewy body dementia as a continuum of disease rather than two separate diseases. But there are very active and lively discussions about that. There are arguments for separating and combining them, but there are many similarities.
Being Patient: Do you group Lewy body dementia with Parkinsons disease in your research?
Dag Aarsland: From a research point-of-view, we try to separate them. We identify the specifics and categorize patients in different groups and study them carefully in order to see how they relate. In clinical practice, its different. I also see patients with Parkinsons and unfortunately, many of them develop dementia and hallucinations or memory problems. In clinical practice, its very much the same challenges for patients, carers and the doctor in terms of findings and the right therapy.
Degeneration Of Neurotransmitter Systems
More widespread dopaminergic deficits in the brain
By definition, all patients with PD have a moderate-to-severe loss of dopaminergic neurons in the nigrostriatal projection pathway. More widespread degeneration of dopaminergic terminals in the striatum particularly denervation of dopaminergic terminals in the associative dorsal caudate nucleus occurs in those with PD-MCI than in those with PD without cognitive impairment . However, in patients with PD-MCI, there is relative preservation of other dopaminergic systems in the brain, whilst those with PDD have a considerable loss of the lateral dopaminergic system to frontal, parietal and temporal cortical regions . In healthy individuals, cortical dopamine modulation can boost working memory as well as visuospatial and attentional processing, and promotes cognitive effort,, suggesting a key role for dopamine in cognitive function.
Fig. 2: Neurotransmitter deficits associated with cognitive decline in PD and DLB.
Noradrenergic locus coeruleus and sympathetic systems
Basal forebrain cholinergic systems
Serotonergic dysfunction is not directly related to cognitive decline
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Improved Clinical Trial Design
Clinical trials for therapies targeting cognition in PD may benefit from recent design improvements. More sensitive outcomes, including computerized cognitive testing and wearables to measure motor and other functions, together with the development of an internationally recognized set of core outcomes, as has been done for idiopathic PD, particularly focused on patients with cognitive impairment and on the effects of specific interventions , will allow the reporting and comparison of research outcomes in a standardized manner. More targeted selection criteria using current diagnostic criteria, and recommended assessments, combined with both biomarkers and genetic risk factors aiming to assign the right person to the right intervention at an early disease stage, as well as biomarkers demonstrating target involvement, will offer opportunities for improved statistical power and cheaper trials.
Causes Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is thought to be caused by the abnormal build-up of 2 proteins called amyloid and tau.
Deposits of amyloid, called plaques, build up around brain cells. Deposits of tau form “tangles” within brain cells.
Researchers do not fully understand how amyloid and tau are involved in the loss of brain cells, but research into this is continuing.
As brain cells become affected in Alzheimer’s, there’s also a decrease in chemical messengers involved in sending messages, or signals, between brain cells.
Levels of 1 neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, are particularly low in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Medicines like donepezil increase levels of acetylcholine, and improve brain function and symptoms.
These treatments are not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but they do help improve symptoms.
Read more about treatments for dementia.
The symptoms that people develop depend on the areas of the brain that have been damaged by the disease.
The hippocampus is often affected early on in Alzheimer’s disease. This area of the brain is responsible for laying down new memories. That’s why memory problems are one of the earliest symptoms in Alzheimer’s.
Unusual forms of Alzheimer’s disease can start with problems with vision or with language.
Read more about Alzheimer’s disease.
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Rarer Causes Of Dementia
There are many rarer diseases and conditions that can lead to dementia, or dementia-like symptoms.
These conditions account for only 5% of dementia cases in the UK.
- problems with planning and reasoning
These symptoms are not severe enough to cause problems in everyday life.
If the underlying illness is treated or managed, symptoms of MCI often disappear and cause no further problems.
But in some cases, people with MCI are at increased risk of going on to develop dementia, which is usually caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
Read more about how to prevent dementia.
Two Of The Following Are Present :
- Fluctuating cognition: Mental problems varying during the day, especially attention and alertness.
- Visual hallucinations: Detailed and well-formed visions, which occur and recur.
- RBD: Physically acting out dreams while asleep.
A DLB diagnosis is even more likely if the individual also experiences any of the following: repeated falls, fainting, brief loss of consciousness, delusions, apathy, anxiety, problems with temperature and blood pressure regulation, urinary incontinence, and chronic constipation, loss of smell, or sensitivity to neuroleptic medications that are given to control hallucinations and other psychiatric symptoms.
Finally, the timing of symptoms is a reliable clue: if cognitive symptoms appear before or within a year of motor symptoms, DLB is more likely the cause than Parkinsonâs disease. Signs of stroke or vascular dementia usually negate the likelihood of DLB.
Testing is usually done to rule out other possible causes of dementia, motor, or behavioral symptoms. Brain imaging can detect brain shrinkage and help rule out stroke, fluid on the brain , or subdural hematoma. Blood and other tests might show vitamin B12 deficiency, thyroid problems, syphilis, HIV, or vascular disease. Depression is also a common cause of dementia-like symptoms. Additional tests can include an electroencephalogram or spinal tap .
How Do You Calm Down Someone With Dementia
Dementia is a frustrating disease and it can be difficult to care for someone living with it. Calming someone down with dementia can be done by listening to the persons frustrations and reassuring them that you are there to help and that they are safe.
You may also create a more calming environment for them through lighting and ambient noise. Playing calming music is a good way to provide a distraction so the person can calm down.
The type of dementia you have will determine how long the later stage will last. For example, the later stages of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease could last a few months while the aggressive stage of Alzheimers could last 1-2 years.
Dementia care can cost anywhere between £100,000 and £500,000. Persons with assets below £23,250 are eligible for funding for this care from their local council.
Palliative Care In Parkinson’s Disease
Palliative care for people with PD and their caregivers has progressed over the last 10 years but it is still an upcoming field. Evidence of effects is limited but trials are underway . Qualitative studies on palliative care needs and natural history studies have indicated that the needs of people with advanced PD are complex. Awareness of the potential benefit of palliative care is growing, but we know little about useful components . To the best of our knowledge, there is no clear conceptualization of the specifics of palliative care in PD.
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Patient And Public Involvement
In the past years, there has been growing attention on the need to include patients, their caregivers and families in all stages of the research process. The increasing contribution of patient and public involvement groups in defining research questions, designing and conducting clinical trials, disseminating outcomes, and shaping research roadmaps reflects the concept of research as a shared effort among all stakeholders. Although in PD research this concept is increasingly being recognized, further involvement of patients and families, also inclusive of diverse patient populations, in research focused on PD-associated cognitive impairment is needed.
What Are Parkinson’s Disease Dementia Medical Treatment And Medications
There is no specific therapy for dementia in Parkinson’s disease. Although cognitive symptoms initially may appear to respond to drugs that promote dopamine production, the improvement is mild and transient in contrast to the early responses to motor control improvement with medication in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease dementia medications
Various medications are used to treat the movement disorders of Parkinson’s disease, some may exacerbate symptoms related to dementia.
- These include dopamine given in the form of levodopa medications known as dopamine agonists that act on the dopamine receptor and medications that slow down the metabolism of dopamine. They are often used in conjunction with monoamine oxidase inhibitors such as rasagiline. In addition, anticholinergic drugs are sometimes used.
- Unfortunately, these drugs may affect cognitive symptoms and mood disorders.
- Anticholinergic drugs, for example, help balance levels of dopamine and acetylcholine, another neurotransmitter, in the brain. These drugs can improve movement disorders but often make memory loss worse.
The dementia of Parkinson’s disease may respond to drugs used in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. However, these drugs, called cholinesterase inhibitors , lead to only small and temporary improvements in cognition.
Mood disorders and psychoses are usually treated with other medication.
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Coping With Dietary Problems
Many people with Parkinsons experience various eating and dietary problems, such as constipation, chewing and swallowing difficulties, and upset stomach. The following tips can help you minimize the symptoms.
If you suffer from constipation Drink lots of water and eat fiber-rich foods, including beans, brown rice, whole grains, and fruit.
If you have trouble chewing or swallowing food Cut foods into smaller portions to avoid choking and to encourage digestion, and remain upright for 30 minutes after eating.
If youre struggling with fatigueLimit the amount of sugar youre eating. Also avoid alcohol and caffeine, especially before bed, as they can reduce the quality of your sleep.
If you take levodopa Dont eat meat or other protein-rich foods for at least 30-60 minutes after taking levodopa, as protein blocks your bodys ability to absorb the medication.
If your medication gives you an upset stomach Take your medication with a full glass of water and a small non-protein based snack, such as a piece of toast or fruit.
Some Parkinsons disease medications need to be taken promptly at specified times before or after eating, so it can also help to establish a regular routine for meal and medication times.
Advice For Carers Family And Friends
Living with or caring for someone with Parkinsons disease dementia can be challenging. Sometimes help and support will be relied on heavily but there will be times when it will be better to step back and allow the person with dementia to do things for themselves. This balance will be difficult to judge at first, but with time and patience new routines and approaches to day-to-day living can be established.
It is important to encourage, stimulate and help the person with dementia, but remember too that rest is important.
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How Can We Support The Sleep/wake Cycle Of Pdd
For people with PDD who are confused about the day-night cycle, some daily strategies can be helpful. At night, starting a lights out routine that happens at the same hour every day, where all curtains are closed and lights are turned off, can help the person understand that it is sleep time. During the day, opening the curtains, allowing the person with PDD to spend as much time in the daylight as possible, avoiding naps, and organizing stimulating activities, can be helpful. Having lots of calendars and clocks in every room might also help a person with PDD be less confused about the time of day.
Parkinson’s Disease Dementia Surgery And Gene Therapy
- Great strides have been made in the surgical treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Several different procedures are now available, and they are successful in many patients in relieving movement symptoms. Unfortunately, surgery has no effect on cognitive symptoms. In fact, most people with dementia are not candidates for surgery.
- Gene therapy is in its infancy there are ongoing human and animal trials with various methods to insert genes into neuronal cells to reduce or stop Parkinson’s disease symptoms by causing cells to produce dopamine coded by the newly inserted genes. Early results with the treatment termed ProSavin are encouraging. However, it is not clear if such therapy could prevent or reverse Parkinson’s disease dementia.
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What Happens In Pdd
People with PDD may have trouble focusing, remembering things or making sound judgments. They may develop depression, anxiety or irritability. They may also hallucinate and see people, objects or animals that are not there. Sleep disturbances are common in PDD and can include difficulties with sleep/wake cycle or REM behavior disorder, which involves acting out dreams.
PDD is a disease that changes with time. A person with PDD can live many years with the disease. Research suggests that a person with PDD may live an average of 57 years with the disease, although this can vary from person to person.
Dementia With Lewy Bodies And Parkinson Disease Dementia
, MD, PhD, Department of Neurology, University of Mississippi Medical Center
Dementia with Lewy bodiesParkinson disease dementia
Dementia is chronic, global, usually irreversible deterioration of cognition.
Dementia with Lewy bodies is the 3rd most common dementia. Age of onset is typically > 60.
Lewy bodies are spherical, eosinophilic, neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions composed of aggregates of alpha-synuclein, a synaptic protein. They occur in the cortex of some patients who have dementia with Lewy bodies. Neurotransmitter levels and neuronal pathways between the striatum and the neocortex are abnormal.
Lewy bodies also occur in the substantia nigra of patients with Parkinson disease Parkinson Disease Parkinson disease is a slowly progressive, degenerative disorder characterized by resting tremor, stiffness , slow and decreased movement , and eventually gait and/or… read more , and dementia may develop late in the disease. About 40% of patients with Parkinson disease develop Parkinson disease dementia, usually after age 70 and about 10 to 15 years after Parkinson disease has been diagnosed.
Both dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson disease dementia have a progressive course with a poor prognosis.
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Why Do Protein Deposits Form In The First Place
Researchers want to know why these protein aggregates form in the first place, how they distribute in the brain, how their signalling works, and how they and their precursors cause neurodegeneration.
A range of theories have been put forward to explain what kickstarts damaging protein aggregation. In the case of Alzheimers, this includes problems with the way oxygen is metabolised in brain cells and the movement of internal cell contents. The brains response to inflammation, and its systems for clearing waste could also play a role.
One main theory is that once amyloid-ß begins to accumulate, it then promotes the build-up of tau. But the relationship is not simple, because tau also has a role in influencing the toxic effects of amyloid-ß.
Although some genetic risk factors for dementias have been identified, particularly for Alzheimers disease , we still dont know how these act to influence protein aggregation and cause degeneration. This is a key area of research focus, and knowing the answers to these questions is crucial to the prevention and treatment of dementia.
Living With Parkinsons Disease
Depending on severity, life can look very different for a person coping with Parkinsons Disease. As a loved one, your top priority will be their comfort, peace of mind and safety. Dr. Shprecher offered some advice, regardless of the diseases progression. Besides movement issues Parkinsons Disease can cause a wide variety of symptoms including drooling, constipation, low blood pressure when standing up, voice problems, depression, anxiety, sleep problems, hallucinations and dementia. Therefore, regular visits with a neurologist experienced with Parkinsons are important to make sure the diagnosis is on target, and the symptoms are monitored and addressed. Because changes in your other medications can affect your Parkinsons symptoms, you should remind each member of your healthcare team to send a copy of your clinic note after every appointment.
Dr. Shprecher also added that maintaining a healthy diet and getting regular exercise can help improve quality of life. Physical and speech therapists are welcome additions to any caregiving team.
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Causes Of Dementia With Lewy Bodies
Lewy bodies are tiny clumps of a protein called alpha-synuclein that can develop inside brain cells.
These clumps damage the way the cells work and communicate with each other, and the brain cells eventually die.
Dementia with Lewy bodies is closely related to Parkinson’s disease and often has some of the same symptoms, including difficulty with movement and a higher risk of falls.
Read more about dementia with Lewy bodies.
Early Signs And Symptoms Are Different
Parkinsons disease generally begins as a movement disorder. Early signs and symptoms include:2
- Tremor, which often begins in the hand or fingers
- Slowed movement, which may include foot dragging
- Slowed automatic movements such as blinking, smiling, and swinging your arms when you walk
Alzheimers disease generally begins as noticeable memory loss. Early signs and symptoms include:3,4
- Trouble remembering familiar words
- Challenges performing everyday tasks such as balancing a checkbook
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