15 Factors that Increase Your Risk of Developing Lewy Body Dementia

Can You Prevent Lewy Body Dementia?

Higher Education Levels Are Correlated with a Reduced Risk of Lewy Body Dementia
Hero Images / Getty Images

Until recently, the only known risk factor for developing Lewy body dementia was considered to be older age. Research has made some gains lately in sifting out what might increase the risk for developing Lewy body dementia. They include the following:

1) Age

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 recent study, researchers found that the peak age range for Lewy body dementia to develop is between 70-79.

2) Not Smoking

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.

3) Low Education Levels

More years of education are correlated with a reduced risk of Lewy body dementia.

4) Depression and Anxiety:

A history of depression and anxiety increase the risk of developing Lewy body dementia.

5) 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.

6) Heredity

About 10% of Lewy body dementia cases appear to be tied to heredity, where the person inherits the disease from a parent. These familial cases of Lewy body dementia appear to occur often in younger people.

Some research has found that people with a variant of the GBA gene may have a higher risk of developing Lewy body dementia.

7) Family History

When someone has had Lewy body dementia or Parkinson's disease, his family members have a higher risk of developing Lewy body dementia.

8) ADHD

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.

9) Gender

Men have a higher chance of developing Lewy body dementia than women do. Approximately twice as many males as females develop Lewy body dementia.

10) Stroke

One study found that a prior stroke was correlated with an increased risk of Lewy body dementia.

11) APOE å4

Being positive for the APOE å4 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.

12) Hypertension

High blood pressure has been correlated with a higher risk or both Alzheimer's disease and Lewy body dementia.

13) Diabetes Mellitus

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.

14) Hyperlipidemia

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.

15) Oophorectomy History

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.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

  • Boot BP, Orr CF, Ahlskog JE, et al. Risk factors for dementia with Lewy bodies: a case-control study. Neurology. 2013;81(9):833-40.

  • Cheng C, Tsao Y, Su Y, Sung F, Tai H, Kung W. Metabolic Risk Factors of Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia with Lewy Bodies, and Normal Elderly: A Population-Based Study. Behavioural Neurology. 2018;2018:1-8. doi:10.1155/2018/8312346

  • Dementia Services Information and Development Centre. Dementia with Lewy Bodies. http://dementia.ie/information/dementia-with-lewy-bodies
  • European Journal of Neurology. 2011 Jan;18(1):78-84. Previous adult attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder symptoms and risk of dementia with Lewy bodies: a case-control study. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20491888?dopt=Abstract
  • Lewy Body Dementia Association. Incidence of Lewy Body Dementias in a General Population. September 16, 2013. http://www.lbda.org/content/incidence-lewy-body-dementias-general-population
  • Neurology. 2013 Aug 27;81(9):833-40. Risk factors for dementia with Lewy bodies: a case-control study. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23892702
  • University of California, San Fransisco. UCSF Memory and Aging Center. Lewy Body Dementia. http://memory.ucsf.edu/education/diseases/dlb