Objective: To study the prevalence of patients fulfilling the clinical consensus criteria for dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) in a dementia population followed up with postmortem examination. To compare the clinical and neuropathological findings in the clinical Lewy body dementia (LBD) group with findings in a clinically defined group with Alzheimer's disease (AD).
Design: Medical records from 200 patients were studied retrospectively. Clinical consensus criteria for DLB and clinical criteria for other dementias were applied.
Setting: The majority of the cases were examined and cared for in psychogeriatric and psychiatric departments.
Patients: The patients, who died between 1985 and 1994, were part of a longitudinal dementia project. Each case was neuropathologically examined. Main outcome measures Prevalence of clinical signs and neuropathology was compared between the clinical groups.
Results: Forty-eight (24%) patients fulfilled the clinical criteria for DLB while 45 (22%) fulfilled the clinical criteria for Alzheimer's disease. The clinical LBD group had a higher Hachinski score compared to the clinical AD group. They also showed a tendency towards a 'frontal profile' with disinhibition, confusion, personality change and vocally disruptive behaviour. More than 80% of the AD and LBD groups respectively exhibited Alzheimer pathology. The LBD group had frontal white matter pathology and degeneration of the substantia nigra more often than the clinical AD group. Both LBD and AD groups showed a progressive and marked increase in severity of dementia and decrease in ADL capacity according to an evaluation based on the Berger scale and Katz index. The condition of the LBD group was significantly worse earlier in dementia.
Conclusion: The results of this study indicate that patients fulfilling the clinical criteria for DLB also exhibit clinical features of possible vascular origin and a frontal profile. Subcortical vascular pathology, nigral degeneration and AD pathology in this group could partly explain the clinical features used to define DLB.
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.