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Diagnosing Lewy body disease at earlier stages

October 16, 2017
by Pamela Tabar, Editor-in-Chief
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As the dementia research community strives to find new ways to detect cognitive diseases at earlier stages, a team of British researchers is studying ways to determine whether mild cognitive impairment might turn into Lewy body disease.

Different forms of neurodegenerative disease have specific ways of appearing at their earliest stages, the Newcastle University researchers note in the study, published in the Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. The mild cognitive impairment (MCI) stage of Alzheimer’s disease is different from the mild cognitive impairment stage of Lewy body disease. Early detection and intervention is crucial, since treatments have greater impact when received at earlier stages.

The team studied participants with Alzheimer’s MCI, Lewy body MCI or Lewy body dementia and a control group. By comparing the symptoms accompanying the mild impairment stage and tracking which disease manifested later, the study produced a list of symptoms commonly associated with the Lewy body form, especially when taken as a group.

The leading characteristics relating specifically to Lewy body MCI:

  • Fluctuating concentration
  • periods of muscle rigidity
  • changes in hand-writing
  • gait and posture changes
  • drooling
  • symptoms of REM sleep disorder

Other symptoms, such as tremors, hyposmia and slow gait were common but not specific to Lewy body MCI or else tended to appear much later in the disease progression.

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