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After Alzheimer's Disease, Vascular Dementia is the second most common form of dementia in the elderly, accounting for 10-20 % of dementia cases. Vascular Dementia usually results from damage to brain functioning from multiple strokes (also known as multi-infarct dementia). Binswanger's disease (also known as subcortical vascular dementia) is a rare, slowly progressing form of vascular dementia induced by diseased blood vessels residing deep within the brain. To date no cure has been discovered.
When a person has both Alzheimer's Disease and Vascular Dementia, we refer to this condition as mixed dementia.
Risk factors for multi-infarct vascular dementia
Since stroke is one of the causes of vascular dementia, the conditions that predispose to stroke are risk factors for dementia as well. The following are all recognized to contribute to the risk of stroke:
High blood pressure
High blood cholesterol level
Lack of regular exercise
Decreased cerebral circulation resulting from impaired cardiac output
Rupture of cerebral aneurysm
Vascular Dementia is generally characterized by a distinct start date followed by a decline during which the individual is aware 'that something is wrong'. There may be a history of multiple episodes of sudden deterioration. As well as the symptoms seen in all persons with dementia, sufferers of vascular dementia commonly have
difficulties with gait (walking) or balance, trouble articulating speech, prominent mood swings and sometimes seizures. Depression is common.
Since Vascular Dementia can be caused by strokes, the individual can also suffer from stroke-related conditions such as aphasia - the inability to form and/or understand words and abnormalities of vision.
Preventative measures to take against the risk of Vascular Disease include controlling high blood pressure, reducing blood cholesterol and quitting smoking. Ask your physician for advice.
In an effort to prevent ongoing strokes a physician may prescribe daily doses of aspirin.
Vascular Dementia Resources
- Memory Loss & the Brain from Rutgers University
- Multi-infarct or Vascular Dementia from the NIH (US)
- National Stroke Association
- Vascular Dementia from the University of California, San Francisco