Vascular dementia is a broad term that describes problems with reasoning, planning, judgment, memory, and other thought processes caused by brain damage due to impaired blood flow to your brain.
You can develop vascular dementia after a stroke blocks an artery in your brain, but strokes don’t always cause vascular dementia. Whether a stroke affects your thinking and thinking depends on the severity and location of your stroke. Vascular dementia can also be caused by other conditions that damage blood vessels and reduce blood flow. This deprives your brain of oxygen and important nutrients.
Symptoms of vascular dementia vary depending on the part of your brain that has impaired blood flow. Symptoms often overlap with those of other types of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease dementia.
Signs and symptoms of vascular dementia include:
Difficulty paying attention and concentrating
Reduced ability to organize thoughts or actions
Decreased ability to analyze a situation, develop an effective plan, and communicate that plan to others
Difficulty deciding what to do next
Movement and movement
Vascular dementia results from conditions that damage the blood vessels in your brain and reduce their ability to supply your brain with the amounts of nutrients and oxygen it needs to carry out thought processes effectively.
Common conditions that can lead to vascular dementia include:
Stroke (heart attack) blocks an artery in the brain. Strokes that block a cerebral artery usually cause a number of symptoms, which can include vascular dementia. However, some strokes do not cause any noticeable symptoms. These silent strokes further increase the risk of dementia.
With silent and noticeable strokes, the risk of vascular dementia increases with the number of strokes that occur over time. A type of vascular dementia that has many strokes is called multi-infarct dementia.
Narrowed or chronically damaged cerebral blood vessels. Conditions that reduce or long-term damage to the blood vessels in your brain can also lead to vascular dementia.
In general, the risk factors for vascular dementia are the same as for heart disease and stroke. Risk factors for vascular dementia are:
Increased age. Your risk of vascular dementia increases as you age. The disorder is rare before age 65 and the risk increases dramatically after age 90.
A history of heart attack, stroke, or mini-stroke. If you have had a heart attack you may be at increased risk of blood vessel problems in your brain. Brain damage that occurs during a stroke or mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack) can increase your risk of developing dementia.
Abnormal aging of the blood vessels (atherosclerosis). This condition occurs when deposits of cholesterol and other substances (plaques) build up in your arteries and narrow your blood vessels. Atherosclerosis can increase your risk of vascular dementia by reducing the flow of blood to your brain.
High cholesterol. High levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol, are associated with an increased risk of vascular dementia.
The health of the blood vessels in your brain is closely related to your overall heart health. Taking these steps to keep your heart healthy can also lower your risk of vascular dementia:
Maintain healthy blood pressure. Keeping your blood pressure normal can help prevent both vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Prevent or control diabetes. Avoiding the onset of type 2 diabetes through diet and exercise is another possible way to reduce your risk of dementia. If you already have diabetes, controlling your blood sugar can help protect the blood vessels in your brain from damage.
Stop smoking. Smoking damages blood vessels all over the body.
Get exercise. Regular physical activity should be