Vascular Dementia

Disease which is caused due to blockages in brain’s blood supply is known as Vascular dementia; this form of dementia is 2nd most common type in USA and Europe, which ranks next to the Alzheimer’s disease.

Multi-infarct dementia (MID) has been regarded as one of the most common among all types of vascular Dementia through past researches and this is capable of causing or exacerbating Alzheimer’s disease. Vascular dementia can severely impact memory and cause cognitive functioning at the very least. But, unlike the Alzheimer’s disease, there are many ways which can help in preventing and reducing the severity of this disease.

In the Article below we will go through:

  • What is meant by vascular dementia?
  • The Signs & symptoms which leads to vascular dementia
  • The Causes and risk factors connected with vascular dementia
  • Remedies in managing symptoms of it
  • Prevention and support from this disease

What is vascular dementia?

Vascular dementia is regarded as a type of degenerative (i.e. marked by gradual deterioration of organs and cells along with loss of function) cerebrovascular disease which leads to progressive decline in the memory & cognitive functioning. Generally it occurs due to interruption due to a blocked or a diseased vascular system in blood supply which carries oxygen & nutrients to brain. Vascular dementia generally occurs to people between the age of 60 & 75years, and affects mostly men than women.

Multi-infarct dementia (MID) regarded as one of the most common of this disease, and  is caused by series of minor strokes, or “mini-strokes,” that seldom go unnoticed & cause damage to cortex of brain—the area related with learning, memory, & language. The mini-strokes have sometimes been referred to as the transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), these results in partial & temporary, blockages of the blood supply & also leads to brief impairments in one’s consciousness or sight. With sometime, the damage which is caused to the brain tissue intervenes the basic cognitive functions & disrupts the everyday functioning.

The main result of Multi-infarct dementia is the loss of operation in some of the specific areas of brain, which leads to impairing of some neurological & mental functions & not others. If this disease occurs with any other type of dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease, it is known as “mixed dementia.”

Picture : Vascular dementia flow chart

vascular dementia pictures

The Signs & symptoms which lead to vascular dementia

Several signs & symptoms are varied & usually reflect in increasing difficulty to be able to perform all everyday activities, like shopping, eating, dressing etc. The Possible signs & indications of vascular dementia includes:

Physical signs/symptomsBehavioural signs/symptoms
  • Dizziness
  • Moving with the rapid, shuffling steps
  • Memory problems; forgetfulness
  • Leg or arm weakness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Loss in bladder or bowel control
  • Slurred speech
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Problems handling in money
  • Language problems
  • Difficulty following instructions
  • Laughing or crying inappropriately
  • Getting lost in or wandering familiar surroundings

Attack of this disease can be slow or dramatic. It has also been observed that a extended period of TIAs leads to gradual decline in the memory, whereas a simple stroke can also produce profound indications immediately. Disregarding the rate of its appearance, vascular dementia generally progresses in the stepwise fashion, where a lapse in the memory & reasoning abilities are then followed by a period of stability, only in giving a way for a further decline.

Short episodes of numbness & temporary loss of speech, vision or strength could result or indicate a mini-stroke (TIA), or can be the warning sign of a stroke. If someone ever experiences any of the symptoms it is thus advisable to be very proactive & seek medical help immediately.

Vascular dementia causes and risk factors

Several reasons can be said to be responsible for the cause of Vascular dementia. Commonly there is blockage in small blood vessels inside the vast system of the arteries that feeds our brain & enters through base of skull. Blockages can be caused by the plaque build up on in the artery wall, or by some blood clots or some which has broken loose & clogged in a tributary further downstream. Abnormal heart rhythms & other heart abnormalities can result in the formation of Clots. Similarly, it can be weak patch on the artery wall which can balloon outward & form an aneurysm, and can burst & deprive brain cells from oxygen.

Few of the risk factors related with the vascular dementia, are those connected with the cardiovascular diseases. They include the following: history of family heart problems, diabetes, disease in the arteries or elsewhere in body, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, & heart rhythm abnormalities. The Lifestyle factors like smoking or being overweight adds to its risk, as well.

It has been estimated that about 50% of the cases result from hypertension, or very high blood pressure. Few causes of the vascular dementia are related with some auto-immune inflammatory diseases of arteries such as Temporal Arteritis and Lupus, which are treatable with the drugs that can suppress our immune system.

Causes of the memory problems which are other than dementia

One of the important thing to know is that memory loss & cognitive problems could have many reasons, of which dementia is regarded as one. One should consult the doctor for the proper diagnosis if he / she experiences dementia type of symptoms, as many of them can be treated comparatively in a simpler manner. The main causes of some memory problems apart from dementia include:

  • Dehydration
  • Metabolic disorder
  • Head injuries
  • Bacterial or viral infections
  • Thyroid disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Malnutrition
  • Adverse reaction to medication
  • Benign brain tumors

Remedies in managing the symptoms of vascular dementia

While there have been claims that the affects of vascular dementia can reduce in some of the cases, there has been actually no scientifically documented way of restoring the normal functions of the brain tissue due to a stroke or TIAs. However, one of the good news is that more damages could be prevented. All Medications are now available that improve the blood circulation to brain & further reduce any probability of any future strokes. Various therapies such as occupational therapy, physiotherapy, & speech therapy that helps to stimulate normal movement & speech patterns are also known today.

Some recovery tips for the vascular dementia

Recovery from this involves in learning some practical ways to manage memory loss. Some advice on how to cope up with memory deficits have been provided by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada which are as follows:

  • Remove oneself from distractions such as t.v. or radio while attempting to understand long messages or instructions,. One can ask the other to break the message further into smaller parts, & repeat what they heard back from them.
  • If the person has had stroke in the past he should inform the others when working with them and ask them to speak slowly or repeat any information when required. That way they know what to expect and that person can alleviate any misunderstandings.
  • Avoid rushing in new tasks; should be deliberate & stop to think and plan before its start.
  • Be patient with oneself. Getting angry can make it more difficult to remember. See if one can learn some of the relaxation techniques and use them.
  • Carry a notepad to write down dates, errands, names, and appointment times that need to be completed. This takes the pressure off oneself.
  • Allow the people close by to help
  • Exercise one’s brain! At end of each day, one can set aside time to recall the day’s events, which helps in building memory capacity.

Vascular dementia Prevention and Support

One of the best ways in preventing vascular dementia is lowering the risk of a stroke. Past studies have revealed that the rate of the prevalence of vascular dementia is said to be 9 times higher after a stroke than rate of its prevalence in the control groups. However, there are ways in which one can reduce a risk of getting high blood pressure, vascular dementia, and stroke.

Making a commitment for a healthier lifestyle

Some of the ways in reducing the risk of all heart diseases & many other diseases are leaving smoking, regular exercise & maintaining healthy diet (limiting intake of alcohol, saturated fat & salt). Stress is also regarded as one of the major contributors in heart diseaseand high blood pressure, so it will be helpful to learn in managing one’s stress through various relaxation techniques or some meditation. One can also get his/her blood pressures checked at least yearly, as well as the measure the body fat levels at regular intervals, especially if they are above 65 years of age or have a family history of heart disease.

Proper reference with physicians about medications

It is known to everyone that medications help in controlling heart disease & high blood pressure. Blood thinners, are mostly used to correct a irregular heart beat. Surgery can be necessary in order to restore blood flow to brain in advanced cases of hardening of arteries, or arteriosclerosis,

Lifestyle changes, Education, & appropriate medical advice are regarded as best safeguards. People should always be careful & understand the warning signs & start making all necessary adjustments in life. The upmost important thing is to start. Seeking support and encouragement from family, friends, support groups & health care experts. Finally one should always remember, even if he / she have been diagnosed for vascular dementia in the past, it is never too late to do something or anything about it.


How can someone with vascular dementia be helped?

All the Individuals having vascular dementia or any other kind of dementia should always be encouraged in participating in their daily schedule, & engage in physical & social activities for the longest possible time. Luckily, there are many support groups for the caregivers, some research studies evaluating the medication for improving the mental functions, & Day Centres that provide activities & socialization for the patients.

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