A study out of the U.K. revealed that people with one form of LBD, specifically, dementia with Lewy bodies and more frequently admitted to general hospitals that people with Alzheimer’s disease or the general elderly population.
Researchers used a sampling of AD and DLB cases from a databases of one of Europe’s largest mental health and dementia care providers. Comparing 194 DLB cases to 776 AD cases, researchers studied the different rates of hospitalizations and length of hospital stays between the two groups. This included planned and unplanned admissions and the cost of hospitalizations.
Compared to those with AD, the DLB cohort had worse physical and mental health at the time of diagnosis. This included more neuropsychiatric features (e.g. hallucinations and delusions), more aggression, self-injury, and depressed mood. Those with DLB also had greater problems with activities of daily living both job performance and recreational activities, and social relationships.
The DLB cohort were more likely to be hospitalized within a year of diagnosis and their overall risk of hospitalization was 46% higher than those with AD. The DLB cohort also had an average of almost 4 additional days in the hospital per year than the AD group. The presence of hallucinations and/or delusions were linked to longer hospital stays in those with DLB.
In both the AD and DLB cohorts, infection and falls/fractures were the most common cause for hospitalization, but those with DLB were more likely to be hospitalized for infection than those with AD.
Infections often causes a sudden worsening of confusion and behavioral symptoms in people with dementia. They require prompt treatment to increase the chance that people with dementia return to the baseline functioning they had prior to the infection.
More research is needed to determine how to reduce hospitalizations and to minimize the duration of hospital stays (and cost) for those with DLB. This could include efforts to recognize DLB earlier, novel ways to address hallucinations, either through medications or psychological treatments, or more holistic care for people with DLB.