ATLANTA (JUNE 11, 2014)—The Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA) asks men to “rethink” men’s health this week with a focus on mental fitness as well as physical fitness. June 9 through 15, 2014, is Men’s Health Week. With age as a known risk factor for dementia and with a growing population of those ages 65 years and older that’s expected to double from more than 36 million (2004) to more than 71 million by 2030, LBDA discusses men, Lewy body dementia (LBD), and cognitive function. Why? Following Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia, the most misdiagnosed form of dementia but the second most common cause of progressive dementia, affects 1.3 million Americans and is slightly more common in men than women.
According to The Healthy Brain Initiative: A National Public Health Road Map to Maintaining Cognitive Health (2007), a joint effort of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alzheimer’s Association, while research is not definitive with regard to cognitive risk factors—that is, factors that may make decline more likely—other than age, or cognitive protective factors—that is factors that may make decline less likely—studies suggest that lifestyle and/or health risks may impact cognitive function. Also, the experts concluded that the following factors may be associated with cognitive health: (1) preventing or controlling high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, overweight, and obesity; (2) preventing or stopping smoking; and (3) being physically active. The initiative calls for more definitive research to determine how these factors and other factors—such as nutrition, social engagement and mental activity—may reduce the risk of cognitive decline or may improve cognitive function.
“Having an active, engaged life style is smart for maintaining good general health,” says Howard I. Hurtig, M.D., Chair, Department of Neurology, Pennsylvania Hospital, and Elliott Professor of Neurology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, “but when people notice signs or symptoms of dementia that could be caused by LBD, they should seek the early help of a physician who understands dementia in general and Lewy body dementia in particular.” Lewy body dementia impairs thinking, movement, sleep and behavior—causing people to see hallucinations or act out dreams. Also, it affects autonomic body functions, such as blood pressure control, temperature regulation, and digestion. Recognizing symptoms early can help a person with LBD get comprehensive and appropriate treatment and can help the caregiver get much needed support.
LBD is associated with abnormal protein deposits in the brain, called Lewy bodies, that affect thinking, movement, behavior and mood. It’s difficult to diagnose LBD, because its early symptoms resemble symptoms found in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Lewy body dementia, a complex but surprisingly common brain disease, refers to two related diagnoses: Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Both PDD and DLB are considered Lewy body dementias. The difference is in the presentation of symptoms based on the “one-year rule.” With DLB, cognitive (thinking) symptoms that interfere with daily living appear within a year of movement problems resembling Parkinson’s disease. With PDD, cognitive symptoms do not typically develop until more than a year after movement problems begin. The greatest risk factor for LBD is age, most often affecting people over 50 years old.
About Lewy Body Dementia Association
The Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of Lewy body dementias (LBD), promoting scientific advances, and supporting people with LBD, their families and caregivers. LBD, a complex disease that can present with a range of physical, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms, is a “family disease.” It dramatically affects not only the person diagnosed but also the primary caregiver. A national health organization, LBDA supports all those affected by Lewy body dementias through outreach, education and research. To learn more about LBD and LBDA, please visit www.lbda.org.
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