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Living with Dementia

Types of Dementia Parkinson’s Disease

  • - Parkinson's Disease Dementia
  • Jun 23, 2011
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Tags: | alpha-synuclein | alzheimer's disease | dementia parkinson's disease | depression |

Course of Parkinson’s Disease Dementia

Parkinson’s Disease dementia is a progressive disorder that has an average length of several years from the beginning of symptoms. One of the notable features of Parkinson’s Disease dementia is that people can respond very well to treatment with cholinesterase inhibitors. The evidence is best for rivastigmine (tradename: ExelonTM). If for some reason that does not work, others can be tried. For some patients, the response to a cholinesterase inhibitor is dramatic improvement. Click here to read Rivistigmine for dementia associated with Parkinson’s disease by Emre M., Aarsland D., Albanese A., et al., as was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2004.

The cause of Parkinson’s disease dementia is still unknown, but it is thought that there are many genes which contribute to the development, including some that are also thought to cause Alzheimer’s disease. Diagnostic criteria for Parkinson’s Disease dementia has been proposed recently, but still requires prospective validation before they can be recommended for widespread use. Click here to read Clinical diagnostic criteria for dementia associated with parkinson’s disease by Emre M., Aarsland D., Brown R., et al., as was published in Movement Disorders in 2007.

Frequently Asked Questions about Parkinson’s Disease dementia:

Exactly what is a Lewy Body?
Early descriptions of Lewy Bodies called them “debris”, but a considerable body of work has revealed that they are made up of a particular type of protein called alpha-synuclein. This protein is otherwise an important part of the synapse - i.e., the small space that separates two neurons, by which they “talk” to each other. The “talking” takes the form of releasing a neurochemical across the synapse, which induces an electrical charge in the second neuron (the one receiving the chemical signal) from the first (the one transmitting it). This is what the term “synaptic neurotransmission” means, and is why the chemicals that cross the synapse are called “neurotransmitters”.

How does Lewy Body dementia differ from Parkinson’s disease dementia?

There is a fairly arbitrary rule that if patients have the classic motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (these are tremor, moving slowly, rigid muscles and a tendency to fall) for more than a year before they have cognitive symptoms (such as impaired memory, inattention or hallucinations) the dementia is called Parkinson’s Disease dementia. On the other hand, if the cognitive symptoms occur first and then the motor symptoms, then the dementia is more than likely Lewy Body dementia.

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