BHealthy Blog

Vascular Dementia Explained

Vascular dementia is a neurocognitive condition that causes a decline in cognitive function like other types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s. Unlike other forms of dementia though, vascular dementia develops when the brain is deprived of oxygen and key nutrients for an extended period of time. This can happen after a stroke, or be caused by any incident or disorder that damages blood vessels or reduces circulation. Read on to learn more about vascular dementia, key risk factors and treatment.

Symptoms

  • Confusion
  • Trouble with Communication
  • Vision Loss
  • Memory Loss
  • Agitation
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Disorientation
  • Slurred Speech
  • Depression
  • Apathy
  • Inability to make decisions

Risk Factors

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood sugar
  • Family history of vascular disease or stroke

Diagnosis

While there is not one definitive vascular dementia test, a physician can determine if a patient has vascular dementia by ruling out other conditions through various tests, scans and screenings. Vascular dementia screenings are usually conducted if an individual is considered at risk for developing the disorder. These are typically individuals who have had a stroke, have high blood pressure, have high cholesterol, have heart disease or have a blood vessel disease. A vascular dementia screening includes:

  • Lab tests, including but not limited to: bloodwork, brain scans, ultrasounds
  • An evaluation of medical history
  • Neuropsychological tests
  • Evaluation of ability to perform daily functions

Treatment

There is no cure for vascular dementia, but medication can be prescribed to improve vascular health by lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol levels, preventing blood clots and/or controlling blood sugar. This may prevent further damage to the brain’s blood vessels, slow down the disease’s progression rate, or prevent a decline. An individual can also bolster their quality of life with vascular dementia by adopting healthy habits such as regular exercise, an adequate sleep schedule, a nutritious diet, an active social life and challenging the brain through games, puzzles and new experiences.

Dealing with vascular dementia or any other form of dementia is daunting, but at Baptist Health, we offer a wide array of resources and support for patients and their families. Learn more about our senior health services or request an appointment if you are concerned that you or someone you love may be experiencing symptoms of vascular dementia.

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