March 12, 2015 by Dean Bellefeuille

Being diagnosed with any disease can be difficult to hear, and the most logical next step may be to get a second opinion. And in the case of Parkinson’s disease, this may be especially prudent, in light of information recently shared by ScienceDaily on the disease’s striking similarities to another condition.

What may seem like (and be diagnosed as) Parkinson’s disease may actually be a very similar type of disease: dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). This lesser known condition is surprisingly common – affecting as many as 1.3 million Americans, and perhaps more who have been inaccurately diagnosed with Parkinson’s since its symptoms are so similar.

According to Howard I. Hurtig, M.D., Chair, Department of Neurology, Pennsylvania Hospital and Elliott Professor of Neurology, diagnosing DLB quickly and accurately could mean the difference between life and death. Incorrectly treating DLB can not only cause serious side effects, but can even worsen symptoms and prevent appropriate symptom management.

Some of the confusion stems from both Parkinson’s disease and DLB falling under the same umbrella of Lewy body dementias. The main difference is in the “one-year rule” related to cognitive symptoms. While those with Parkinson’s disease typically do not present cognitive issues until at least a year after movement symptoms begin, DLB is the opposite, with cognitive symptoms appearing first for at least a year.

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