Dementia with Lewy Bodies and Parkinson’s Dementia frequently misdiagnosed

Mention dementia and people automatically make a link to Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's is indeed the most common cause of dementia in the UK, but there are in fact several diseases that result in dementia symptoms.

Experts from King's College London are now calling for greater public awareness of some of the lesser known causes, amid fears of widespread misdiagnosis.

Professors Dag Aarsland and Clive Ballard are warning that, in particular, Dementia with Lewy Bodies and Parkinson's Dementia  are frequently misdiagnosed. Patients are often inappropriately prescribed antipsychotic drugs which can have unnecessary side-effects and in some cases, even worsen a patient's condition. 

Dementia with Lewy Bodies is the second most common cause of age-related dementia behind Alzheimer's, affecting one in ten of all people with dementia. Despite this, and the fact that most people with Parkinson's Disease will eventually develop dementia, there is little public awareness of these conditions.

The Government's dementia challenge aims to make England a world leader in dementia research but it makes no reference specifically to either Lewy Bodies or Parkinson's Dementia.

Dag AarslandChair of Old Age Psychiatry, King's College London                 

"Despite the fact that they are common conditions, Lewy Bodies and Parkinson's dementia are desperately under-researched, and many health professionals and members of the public have never even heard of them.

The symptoms of these disorders can be extremely distressing to patients and their carers, and are often misdiagnosed, which is why we are calling for a specific strategy to address them as part of the UK Government's dementia plan."

​"While the UK Government's commitment to tackling dementia is commendable, it's vitally important that the unique challenges of Lewy Bodies and Parkinson's dementia are better recognised and planned for.

​"We hope that by improving recognition among researchers, medical professionals, and the public, we can go some way to reducing the problems of misdiagnosis and poor treatment which stem from the poor awareness of these conditions."

Clive Ballard
Director of the National Institute for Health Research Dementia Biomedical Research Unit at King's College London                 

For more information about the different forms of dementia, click here to read our recent post - How much do you really know about dementia?

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  • 14 April 2016