October Is Lewy Body Dementia Awareness Month

Article ID: 581655

Released: 12-Oct-2011 1:05 PM EDT

Source Newsroom: NYU Langone Health

Experts From The Comprehensive Lewy Body Disease Center at NYU Langone Medical Center Are Available To Provide Information

Newswise — New York, October 12, 2011 – The month of October is designated as Lewy Body Dementia month. Lewy body dementia (LBD) is a degenerative brain disease that progressively impairs thinking and movement, while impacting behavior and sleep. Although it affects an estimated 1.3 million people in the U.S., LBD is under-recognized, under-diagnosed and under-treated. It is most often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

Lewy Body dementia is a more rapidly progressive disease than Alzheimer’s disease. Treating LBD patients with the wrong medications can lead to serious, sometimes fatal complications. Caregivers face significant distress, burden and isolation because they are unable to get the help they need. Research shows that LBD can be detected early with a careful evaluation. Three out of 4 LBD patients are initially misdiagnosed and the majority of patients see more than 3 doctors for more than 10 visits over 18 months before a diagnosis is established. More research and better education for healthcare providers is needed

Early, correct diagnosis allows proper management of symptoms, avoids potentially harmful medications, and alleviates caregiver distress. Correct diagnosis also promotes research programs to find better treatments. Research shows specific patterns of cognitive decline, changes in MRI, and differences in spinal fluid proteins that may increase our ability to make early, accurate diagnoses

Focused efforts on healthcare provider education and developing biological markers of disease to improve diagnosis are needed. Our research efforts are now focusing on the burden and distress caregivers’ face and their unmet needs and well as using different forms of brain imaging to improve our ability to understand the changes in the LBD brain.

To meet the challenges of caring for patients with LBD, NYU Langone Medical Center created the first of its kind Comprehensive Lewy Body Dementia Center to provide world-class clinical care and research. James E. Galvin, MD, MPH, Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry, Director of Clinical Operations, Center of Excellence on Brain Aging and Director, Pearl Barlow Center for Memory Evaluation and Treatment at NYU School of Medicine is available to discuss Lewy Body Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Quick Facts About LBD

1. LBD is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease2. Core symptoms include: memory and thinking problems, movement problems, hallucinations, sleep disturbances and fluctuations in attention and concentration3. LBD patients experience a more rapid functional decline than Alzheimer’s disease patients with shorter intervals to nursing home placement and death4. The combination of cognitive, motor and behavioral symptoms place severe burden and stress on caregivers who often find themselves socially isolated5. Research has led efforts to understand the underlying causes of disease and improve diagnosisa. LBD patients have more prominent problems with visual-spatial skills (such as depth perception, bumping into objects, not seeing things in front of them)b. LBD patients have personality changes such as loss of interest, become more passive, quiet or withdrawn, and have trouble paying attentionc. LBD patients are more likely to suffer from depressiond. LBD patients have alterations in the way neurons communicate with each other that differ from patients with Alzheimer’s disease and health controlse. LBD patients have changes in the pattern of spinal fluid proteins that may help improve diagnosis6. Research has led efforts to develop effective treatments for LBDa. LBD patients may have more robust responses to medications typically used for Alzheimer’s diseaseb. LBD patients may benefit from medications to improve attention and concentration7. Research has led efforts to understand the challenges facing caregivers to meet their needs and improve the quality of life for LBD patients and their familiesa. Caregivers reported moderate to severe burden; 8 out of 10 felt the people around them did not understand their burden and more than half of spouses reported feelings of isolationb. We are now studying Caregiver grief, burden, well-being and quality of life in a national survey

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About The Pearl Barlow Center for Memory Evaluation and Treatment The Pearl Barlow Center provides comprehensive diagnostic and patient-care services to persons with memory problems and to their families. The services offered at Barlow encompass best practices in medicine, psychiatry and neurology, including pharmacologic and psychosocial treatments. The Barlow's interdisciplinary medical approach integrated with world class research capabilities provides many advantages to its patients. The Lewy Body Disease Center at NYU Langone Medical Center offers a collaborative, patient-focused approach to diagnosis and treatment. Diagnostic evaluations involve both physical and neurological examinations, as well as patient and family interviews (including a detailed lifestyle and medical history) and neuropsychological and mental status tests.

About NYU Langone Medical CenterNYU Langone Medical Center, a world-class, patient-centered, integrated, academic medical center, is one on the nation’s premier centers for excellence in clinical care, biomedical research and medical education. Located in the heart of Manhattan, NYU Langone is composed of three hospitals – Tisch Hospital, its flagship acute care facility; the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, the world’s first university-affiliated facility devoted entirely to rehabilitation medicine; and the Hospital for Joint Diseases, one of only five hospitals in the nation dedicated to orthopaedics and rheumatology – plus the NYU School of Medicine, which since 1841 has trained thousand of physicians and scientists who have helped to shape the course of medical history. The medical center’s tri-fold mission to serve, teach and discover is achieved 365 days a year through the seamless integration of a culture devoted to excellence in patient care, education and research. For more information, go to www.NYULMC.org.


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