If a person is diagnosed with vascular dementia (VD), this means their brain has been damaged due to a lack of blood supply. The lack of blood supply in the brain may be caused by either a blocked vessel or a narrowed one. When there isn’t enough blood supply, the brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients.
Other Names For Vascular Dementia
Some experts argue that this condition should be referred to as VCI or Vascular Cognitive Impairment. This is because it provides a better description of the vascular changes that occur with this condition.
There are also experts who refer to this condition as “multi-infarct dementia” which occurs after having a series of small strokes that lead to loss of brain function. However, some experts consider multi-infarct dementia to be only one type of vascular dementia.
What Are The Symptoms Of Vascular Dementia?
Symptoms of vascular dementia include sluggish thinking, difficulty understanding, reduced ability to plan, changes in behavior, mood and personality. The person with this condition may feel confused much of the time, experience changes in their manner of walking and may find difficulty keeping their balance.
An individual whose vascular dementia is still at its early stage may become prone to mood swings which are not appropriate to the circumstances. This can express as emotional outbursts, yet at other times they may become apathetic.
Sufferers are also prone to symptoms of anxiety and depression, especially if they are aware of how the disease may progress and how it impacts their overall health.
Vascular dementia that occurs following a major stroke will usually have accompanying physical symptoms. This means that the patient may develop vision and speech problems. They may also have problems with using their limbs.
Cognitive problems associated with vascular dementia may initially manifest as mild. This can then worsen as a consequence of experiencing repeated minor strokes, which causes cumulative damage in the brain.
What Are the Risk Factors and Causes of Vascular Dementia?
Some cases of vascular dementia are caused by strokes and ministrokes. People aged over sixty are more prone to experiencing vascular dementia, as age also increases the risk for having strokes.
Mini-strokes can sometimes lead to symptoms that are not physically or immediately apparent, however damage caused by re-occurrence is cumulative. One third of patients who do not manifest the symptoms of dementia before will more likely to develop such condition within a year after having a stroke.
High blood pressure tops the list of contributing causes of vascular dementia. It accounts for about fifty percent of the population of vascular dementia sufferers. This is because high blood pressure can adversely impact the white matter part of the brain. Research reveals that elderly individuals who have white matter lesions in the brain’s periventricular region face a higher risk for dementia.
Some autoimmune diseases such as temporal arteritis and lupus eythematosus may lead to reduced blood flow to the person’s brain. Those who have these conditions face a higher risk of developing vascular dementia. Endocarditis or the presence of infection in the heart can also lead to VD. Brain hemorrhage and extreme levels of hypotension can also increase the likelihood of suffering vascular dementia.
How Is Vascular Dementia Diagnosed?
Doctors may sometimes find it hard to tell whether an individual has Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia. This is because it is also very common for geriatric patients to have both diseases. When diagnosing vascular dementia, the patient will usually undergo a CT (computerized tomography) scan or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).
Is Vascular Dementia Treatable?
Patients with vascular dementia are often prescribed medications whose roles are not just to help manage its symptoms. These medications may be given in order to prevent another stroke.
Providing appropriate treatment is important in preventing the progression of the disease, and treatment plans for vascular dementia are aimed at reducing the risk of further brain damage.
There are studies which suggest that certain drugs which have been proven helpful for those with Alzheimer’s can also be beneficial for vascular dementia sufferers.