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Vascular Dementia

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Vascular dementia occurs when there are problems with the blood supply to the brain. The following fact sheet will cover all the information related vascular dementia that will help you understand this condition better.

What is Vascular Dementia?

A broad term used to describe problems associated with blood circulation to the brain is called as vascular dementia. Vascular dementia leads to problems that affects reasoning, planning, memory, judgement and other thought processes.

Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia in older adults, the first being Alzheimer’s disease (AD).This condition is irreversible and thought to be caused by a series of small stroke or at times a large stroke that is followed or preceded by a smaller stroke.

Symptoms

Symptoms of vascular dementia vary depending on the location or severity of the blood vessel damage in the brain. The obvious symptoms of vascular dementia after a major stroke called as post-stroke dementia include:

  • Confusion
  • Trouble speaking
  • Vision loss
  • Disorientation

Other symptoms include:

  • Physical symptoms such as leg or arm weakness, balancing problems, tremors, dizziness, loss of bladder control, loss of bowel control.
  • Behavioral changes such as slurred speech, language problem, difficulty organizing, problems following instructions, laughing or crying at inappropriate time, getting lost in known places, problems carrying out usual tasks like paying bills, etc.
  • Mental changes such as hallucinations, delusions, memory problems, slowed thinking, mood changes, personality changes, confusion, etc.

Causes

Every cell in the body requires continuous blood supply to remain healthy and function normally. The vascular system supplies blood to the cells. Any problems, blockage or damage in the supply of blood to the brain leads to brain cell death. This leads to vascular dementia.

There are a number of conditions that can lead to vascular damage leading to vascular dementia. These conditions include:

  • Stroke that blocks the brain artery leading to vascular dementia. When a number of strokes occur over time, it leads to multi-infarct dementia.
  • Narrowing of blood vessels due to blood pressure, hardening of arteries, erythrmatosus, brain hemorrhage, diabetes, etc.

Diagnosis

There are no specific tests that determine vascular dementia. The diagnosis is based on medical history, lab tests, brain imaging, neurological examination, carotid ultrasound as well as neuropsychological tests.

Treatment

The treatment involves prevention of further cerebrovascular lesions. This can be done by administration of antiplatelet drugs, hypertension, hypercholestromia, diabetes, etc. medications.

People with vascular dementia require support from family and caregivers. They need to be reassured by the care givers that their life can still be lived dignity and self-respect. Provide these patients with a calm, quiet and positive environment. This will prevent depression, agitation and other mood as well as personality changes from taking over their old self to some extent. Speak to a healthcare provider for more details regarding vascular dementia.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: April 06, 2015