Vascular dementia

Vascular dementia is a medical term used to describe cognitive function impairments that are caused by problems in the blood vessels that lead to the brain. Blood vessels may become completely blocked resulting in having a stroke. Depending on the severity of the stroke and the part of the brain that was affected, it can result in vascular dementia. Another way for vascular dementia to develop is when blood vessels in the brain narrow. When this happens it reduces the amount of blood flow to those particular areas of the brain. This condition is very common in people that are age 65 or older and the chances of developing the condition rise greatly with the aging process. A person in their 80’s or 90’s has a much greater risk of having this dementia than someone in their 60’s. Vascular dementia is considered the second most popular form of dementia. The most common form is Alzheimer’s disease.

The symptoms of vascular dementia can be different depending on what area of the brain was affected. Some of the early signs of vascular dementia can be the declining ability to concentrate on thoughts or tasks. The symptoms can then progress suddenly after having a stroke or a series of mini-strokes or it can continue to develop gradually. Vascular dementia disorder is commonly confused with Alzheimer’s disease since they can have similar symptoms. It is very typical for these diseases to occur together and more often they will be diagnosed together rather than separately. Alzheimer’s disease usually starts with loss of memory, whereas with vascular dementia disorder this symptom usually starts later on.

Other symptoms commonly found with vascular dementia disorder can include mood and personality changes, language and memory problems, confusion, agitation, urinary frequency or urgency changes, or a person my find they become unsteady on their feet or start falling more often.

Although age plays the most important role in developing vascular dementia, there are also a few other factors that can contribute to the condition as well. People with high blood pressure run a greater risk of developing the dementia since hypertension can put increased pressure on blood vessels. Also diabetes raises the glucose levels to the point where they can damage the blood vessels. This can increase the risk of a stroke.

There are several procedures used to test for vascular dementia including a computerized tomography (CT) or a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI). In order to check for blocked or narrowed arteries an MR angiogram may be performed. There are also procedures like the Doppler ultrasound or Neuropsychological tests that can help determine the severity and types of impairment.

Unfortunately there is no cure as of now for vascular dementia. There is no single medication that has been known to treat the symptoms of this condition. There have been some cases in which medications used to treat Alzheimer’s disease were administered and have shown to help some people. Research is still being done to determine if this is truly effective or if this can cause the increased possibility in deaths.

So far the best way to prevent this condition from developing is by staying healthy and taking good care of your body. Quitting smoking, avoiding excess alcohol, monitoring of blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight, monitoring blood sugar and cholesterol are all important ways of staying healthy. These habits should be started at an early age to reduce possible health risks associated with getting this condition later in life. If you already have vascular dementia it is possible to reduce symptoms by keeping an eye on these risk factors as well.

Last updated on Aug 10th, 2009 and filed under Neurological Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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