Until recently, the only known risk factor for developing Lewy body dementia was considered to be an older age. Research has made some gains lately in sifting out what might increase the risk of developing Lewy body dementia. They include the following:
As people age, they generally have a greater risk of developing Lewy body dementia. The typical age range for the development of Lewy body dementia is between 50 and 85, although it can occur outside those ages. In one study, researchers found that the peak age range for Lewy body dementia to develop is between 70-79.
Interestingly, people with a history of smoking cigarettes have a lower risk of developing Lewy body dementia. However, the negative health effects of smoking are such that this is never recommended as a way to prevent Lewy body dementia.
Low Education Levels
More years of education are correlated with a reduced risk of Lewy body dementia.
Depression and Anxiety
A history of depression and anxiety increase the risk of developing Lewy body dementia.
Less Caffeine Intake
A history of higher caffeine consumption is associated with a lower risk of Lewy body dementia. Caffeine intake has also been correlated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
About 10% of Lewy body dementia cases appear to be tied to heredity, where the person inherits the disease from a parent. When someone has had Lewy body dementia or Parkinson’s disease, his or her family members have a higher risk of developing Lewy body dementia. These familial cases of Lewy body dementia appear to occur often in younger people.
Mutations in genes known as SNCA and SNCB can cause Lewy body dementia. Some research has found that people with a variant of the GBA gene may have a higher risk of developing Lewy body dementia. Being positive for the APOE 4 gene was also found to be higher in those who developed Lewy body dementia. APOE ε4 has been tied to a significantly higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
According to one study published in the European Journal of Neurology, almost half of the participants in the study had adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), compared to only 15% of those with Alzheimer’s disease.
Men have a higher chance of developing Lewy body dementia than women do. Approximately twice as many males as females develop Lewy body dementia.
One study found that a prior stroke was correlated with an increased risk of Lewy body dementia.
High blood pressure has been correlated with a higher risk or both Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body dementia.
Diabetes mellitus, specifically type 2, has been strongly associated with a higher occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease, so much so that Alzheimer’s is sometimes referred to as “type 3 diabetes.” Other research has also determined that diabetes carries a higher risk of Lewy body dementia.
Hyperlipidemia, commonly referred to as high cholesterol levels, also increases the risk of both Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body dementia. High cholesterol levels are connected with cardiovascular diseases, which have been tied to increased dementia risk.
One other factor identified as being connected with a higher risk of developing Lewy body dementia is a history of an oophorectomy, which is the removal of one or both of the ovaries in women.
Can You Prevent Lewy Body Dementia?
If you have a family history of Lewy body dementia or Parkinson’s disease, it’s understandable to be concerned about developing Lewy body dementia. Like other types of dementia, there’s not a guaranteed way to completely prevent Lewy body dementia. However, understanding the factors that increase the risk helps us identify opposing strategies that can decrease this likelihood, and these strategies are generally connected with better physical health, as well.