What is Vascular Dementia

What is Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia usually develops following a stroke. A stroke attack can block an artery in the brain, depriving it of oxygen and nutrients. Without sufficient oxygen, the blood can’t circulate well, which then causes damage to the blood vessels and cells. Damage to the cells can lead to vascular dementia. But strokes don’t always end up in vascular dementia.

Vascular dementia is the second most popular type of dementia after Alzheimer's disease. It accounts for 15% to 20% of dementia cases in older adults.

Some experts may use the term vascular cognitive impairment (VCI) or multi-infarct dementia over vascular dementia, but they mean the same condition.

Who is at risk

People with high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and those who smoke have a higher risk of vascular dementia. Conversely, proper health management and lifestyle changes can reduce the risk.

The risk of dementia is higher for older people between 60 to 75 years old. Men are more vulnerable than women. Vascular dementia also often affects African-Americans. Individuals with a history of stroke or ministries, heart attack, and atherosclerosis—wherein fatty deposits build up in the arteries—have a higher risk as well. Other condition that raises the stakes of developing vascular dementia are:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Smoking

All of these health conditions carry some level of damage to the blood vessels, which increases the possibility of developing this type of dementia. However, the disease can also be prevented by eating healthy, exercising, and changing a detrimental lifestyle.

Symptoms

Some symptoms of vascular dementia overlap with Alzheimer's or other types of dementia. However, if symptoms become apparent following a stroke, then it's likely to be vascular dementia.

Common symptoms are:

  • Short-term memory loss
  • Getting lost or wandering
  • Uncontrolled laughing or crying
  • Trouble with concentration
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Speech problems
  • Poor balance
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Paralysis on a specific part of the body

Treatment

There are no approved medications to treat the symptoms of vascular dementia. There's evidence that some medicines used to treat symptoms of Alzheimer's may also help relieve the symptoms of vascular dementia, but there’s not much information about this. Medications for hypertension or diabetes mellitus may be taken to avoid the worsening of vascular dementia.

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