Lewy body disease is a type of dementia. Dementia is the progressive loss of memory and various other mental functions, including the ability to learn, reason, and judge.

Brain Cells

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Lewy body disease is associated with the buildup of Lewy bodies in regions of the brain. These are abnormal protein deposits inside cells that play a role in certain aspects of memory, visual processing, and motor control. It is not clear exactly what causes the buildup of Lewy bodies in the brain.

Risk Factors

Lewy body disease is more common in men, and in people over 50 years old. It is also more common in people with a family history of Lewy body disease, Parkinson disease, or other dementias.

The disease is linked to:


Lewy body disease is characterized by:

  • Fluctuations in alertness and attention—frequent drowsiness, lethargy, staring into space, disorganized speech, and insomnia
  • Recurrent visual hallucinations
  • Poor regulation of body temperature and blood pressure
  • Obsessive compulsive behaviors
  • Forgetfulness
  • Parkinsonian motor symptoms, such as rigidity or loss of spontaneous movement
  • Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder


You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A doctor can do tests to narrow the cause of dementia. Other tests may include:

  • Memory, language, and other cognitive tests
  • Neuropsychological tests
  • Patient and family interviews
  • Imaging tests take pictures of internal bodily structures. This can be done with:
  • Blood tests

The only way to confirm Lewy body disease is through an autopsy after death.


While there is no cure for Lewy body disease, 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:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors
  • Glutamate blockers
  • Catecholamines
  • Antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsants

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

Other Treatments

You may benefit from:


There are no current guidelines to prevent Lewy body disease.


Lewy Body Dementia Association

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke


Alzheimer Society

Canadian Stroke Network


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Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD  Last Updated: 9/15/2016