Vascular Dementia

WEEKLY COMMUNICATOR (300 x 100 px) (200 × 100 px) (1)

FACTS

  • Second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer’s
  • Caused by damage to blood vessels that feed the brain
  • Gradual decline in memory and functioning, characterized by alternating periods of stable symptoms followed by dramatic decline
  • Worsening of symptoms are often due to small strokes
  • Large strokes can cause vision changes or numbness and weakness in one part of the body
  • May be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or Lewy body dementia, in which case the dementia is called “mixed”

SYMPTOMS

  • Symptoms can vary widely depending on where the damaged blood vessels are and how much brain tissue is supplied by them
  • Memory loss may or may not be significant
  • Impaired judgement and planning
  • Declining ability to focus attention
  • Difficulty finding words
  • Delusions
  • Uncontrolled laughing or crying

RISK FACTORS

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • History of stroke or mini-stroke (TIA)

DIAGNOSIS

  • Assessment through review of medical history and medications, observations during the appointment, and interviews with family or close friends
  • Physical and neurological exam, including memory test and depression screen
  • Lab studies, including blood count and glucose, thyroid, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D levels
  • Possible CT scan of the head, MRI of the brain, and carotid ultrasound

TREATMENT

  • Currently there is no cure; research is ongoing
  • Memory medications can lessen the symptoms and improve quality of life
  • Strict adherence to medications for cardiovascular health, including blood pressure medications and statins
  • Engaging in healthy lifestyle activities such as exercise, a Mediterranean diet, new socializations, limiting alcohol, and stopping smoking

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