A variant gene thought to play a role in Alzheimer’s disease, the ε4 allele of the gene for apolipoprotein E, may be associated with other forms of dementia (Zabetian et al, Archives of Neurology, 2012).
In this study, the researchers defined four types of dementia – Alzheimer’s without Lewy body neuropathologic changes, Lewy body disease with Alzheimer’s features, pure Lewy body disease (with low or no Alzheimer’s features), and Parkinson’s dementia (also with low or no Alzheimer’s features).
The variant – the ε4 allele of the gene for apolipoprotein E (APOE) – was elevated in both Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia. This suggests that APOEε4 can play other roles (i.e., other than amyloid degeneration in AD) in neurodegeneration.
So, does this imply a commonality? Interesting thoughts! much love.
I want to start the new year off by clarifying some terminology around dementia.
If dementia was a “car”, Alzheimer’s disease would be a “Ford”
… meaning Alzheimer’s disease is a TYPE of dementia. Lewy Body Dementia is a TYPE of dementia.
Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s a condition in which a set of symptoms exist that cause individuals to have difficulty functioning in their daily lives. These symptoms are related to thinking and to social abilities, and can include memory loss, impaired judgment and difficulty with language.
The most common type of progressive dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. Symptoms are caused by the destruction and death of nerve cells in the brain. Continued research is needed to determine exactly how and why the destruction begins. So, while Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia, not all dementias are related to Alzheimer’s. Symptoms may be similar, but it is important to obtain a thorough medical evaluation when dementia is suspected in order to determine the appropriate cause.
Lewy body dementia is another type of progressive dementia. Lewy bodies are abnormal clumps of protein in the brain that can cause tremors and rigidity similar to Parkinson’s Disease; visual hallucinations; fluctuations between confusion and clear thinking; and rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder, in which an individual acts out dreams.
… If you’re interested in learning more about Lewy body dementias, check out this great video seminar from the LBDA Speaker’s kit “When it isn’t Alzheimer’s” HERE
. More on this to come… much love.
Dr Thomas Graboys was a cardiologist at Harvard Medical and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, celebrated for his rapport with patients.
At age 49 he began with battle with Parkinson’s disease and progressive Lewy Body Dementia.
This book chronicles his diagnosis, retirement and day-to-day physical, mental and emotional struggles. His story gives a voice, not only to persons diagnosed, but to family members and friends affected by this degenerative disorder. I think people affected by Parkinson’s will resonate with and find courage and comfort in his inspiring words.
“extract pleasure from life … much remains, and there is a life to be lived.”
He gives his own prescription for dealing with Parkinson’s. Dr Graboys would tell you, if you were his patient:
- Be motivated by and accountable to family and friends
- Find a safe space (friend, therapist) to unburden your thoughts
- Accept your new reality and judge each day by the new standard set by Parkinson’s
- Exercise your mind and your body… realize the world is bigger than your illness
- Do something you find comfort in (God, music, running, etc.)
- Have a plan: illness management, the things you want in life.
- Be proactive and take control over the things you can (diet, exercise, socialize, music, movies)
I really enjoyed this book. It is written with honesty and a sense of connection to the greater Parkinson’s community. much love.