While former presenter Catherine Laborde’s husband has announced that his partner is becoming increasingly incapacitated due to the Lewy body dementia she suffers from, this little-known complex neurodegenerative disease is actually more common than we think.
Memory loss, cognitive disorders, hallucinations… Lewy body disease, which afflicts former presenter Catherine Laborde, is a little-known but widespread disease in France. Very difficult to manage for the patient and those around him, we explain what this disease consists of.
Lewy body disease is a complex neurodegenerative disease. In fact, it affects different parts of the brain and develops in different ways. According to France Alzheimer, “nearly 250,000 people” are affected by the disease in France, “including 67% who remain undiagnosed”.
The first symptoms of Lewy body disease are cognitive impairment. “In general, the sick person has difficulty in visual and spatial perception. They may also have difficulty multitasking and thinking logically.” Attention deficit and memory problems can then develop. “The sick person may also exhibit mood and behavior changes that may indicate depression,” the website says.
Hallucinations, mood swings, sleep disturbances
According to the France Alzheimer website, “about 80% of sufferers experience visual hallucinations, sometimes auditory, often in the early stages of the disease.” Motor disorders can also occur, producing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease: slowing down, stiffness or tremors. Other symptoms may be mistaken for Parkinson’s disease, such as “change in handwriting, shuffling, blockages, loss of balance, then falls, frozen expression, reduction in voice intensity.”
Mood swings can also be seen. They usually manifest themselves as depressive symptoms, restlessness, apathy, paranoia, anxiety or even delirium. At the same time, the patient may have significant sleep disturbances, particularly as a result of behavioral disturbances in REM sleep. “The patient sleeps restlessly, he seems to be living his dream. He can speak, make violent movements. He can fall out of his bed or get up and pursue his dream in a kind of somnambulism,” maybe we read on the site.
The variety of symptoms makes it difficult to diagnose the disease. However, indicative symptoms combined with an imaging examination of the synapses (contact point between two neurons) or also a cardiac scintigraphy, magnetic resonance imaging or polysomnography can be carried out to support the diagnosis.
To date, there is no cure for Lewy body disease. Only symptomatic treatments that can slow the progression of the disease should be given to the patient.
However, “many antipsychotic drugs, particularly first-generation ones, can cause dangerous side effects and increase the risk of confusion, falls, or even death in people with MCL.”