Individuals who develop vascular dementia will have difficulties with memory, judgment, and reasoning. The symptoms may appear rapidly and are often mild at first before gradually worsening. It is difficult to diagnose since it often occurs concurrently with Alzheimer’s and the symptoms might vary from one person to another.
Where Does Vascular Dementia Come From?
Vascular dementia is the result of a blockage in the brain which restricts blood flow. This blockage in turn might result from either a transient ischemic attack or stroke. Lack of blood and oxygen can rapidly damage the brain, even if the incident is short in duration.
What are the Symptoms of Vascular Dementia?
While the precise symptoms may vary from one person to another, it largely depends on the brain area which is afflicted as well as the extent of the damage. Generalized symptoms consist of:
• Difficulties planning, concentrating, or completing activities
• Problems managing one’s finances
• An inability to follow directions
• Short term memory lapses
• Getting lost or wandering
• Crying or laughing randomly
The symptoms which are associated with vascular dementia often present themselves in the aftermath of a serious stroke. Afflicted individuals may appear disoriented or confused, have trouble understanding speech or speaking and their vision may be compromised. Other things that might appear include headaches, problems walking, or paralysis in one area of the body.
Is Vascular Dementia Related to Alzheimer’s disease?
No, the two conditions are different, but one may suffer from both simultaneously. The difference between vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s is that dementia usually comes from a stroke and is connected to problems such as elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, whereas doctors currently have no idea what causes Alzheimer’s and its symptoms tend to worsen at a slower pace. However, it does impair balance and coordination which is why the two conditions are often confused.
Who Is at Risk of Developing Vascular Dementia?
Those who have recently suffered from a stroke are at high risk of developing dementia. Research indicates that between twenty-five and thirty-three percent of strokes lead to dementia. The other risk factor is age. Those between the ages of sixty and seventy-five are most likely to develop it and gender also plays a role, as males are more likely to contract this condition than females.
How to Prevent and Treat Vascular Dementia
Making better choices early in life is the key to preventing this condition. For instance, controlling cholesterol and blood pressure, avoiding excessive drinking or smoking, and exercising regularly are the keys to avoiding it. Like many diseases, vascular dementia has no cure once it appears, so preventing it is the best solution.
For those that have it, the only choice is management which can be accomplished by lifestyle changes so that its progression can be slowed. To date, the Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved any drugs that can be used to treat this condition, though this might change in the future.