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What is vascular dementia?
Symptoms and treatment of vascular dementia
After Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia. As with the other causes of dementia, vascular dementia is irreversible and causes gradual, progressive damage to the brain.
What are the causes of vascular dementia?
The body’s blood vessels are collectively called the vascular system. If the brain’s vascular system is damaged and blood cannot reach individual brain cells, these will eventually die, resulting in what we call vascular dementia.
Risk factors that may cause or accelerate damage to the brain’s vascular system include:
Strokes and vascular dementia
Single major strokes are a leading cause of vascular dementia – in this case known as ‘single-infarct’ dementia. A series of minor strokes can have the same result – and can be so tiny that the sufferer may not even be aware of them happening. This can lead to ‘multi-infarct’ dementia.
Stroke symptoms include slurred speech, weakness on one side of the body and blurred vision. It’s crucial to consult a doctor if you have them – even if the symptoms go away by themselves – as strokes will otherwise lead to permanent damage.
Small vessel disease-related dementia
This is caused by damage to the tiny bloody vessels that lie deep in the brain. Symptoms appear gradually and may be accompanied by problems with walking.
The importance of getting a professional diagnosis
Diagnosis is essential to discovering whether the cause of the symptoms is curable or not. Also, the sooner the cause is identified – whether vascular dementia or something else – the more effective treatment could be and the slower the subsequent degeneration.
A positive diagnosis will also open the door to support services geared to dementia sufferers and their carers – and allow the individual and their family to plan for the future.
Once referred to a qualified specialist, testing will include cognitive tests, an investigation of lifestyle factors, medical history and family history, and, if necessary, brain scans. It’s also very helpful for a family member to attend to provide verification or additional information about particular symptoms.
What kind of treatments are there for vascular dementia?
While vascular dementia cannot be reversed, there are ways to slow down its advance:
How Clinical Partners can help
Simply call our clinical team in confidence on 0203 326 9160 and we will recommend the most suitable therapist or support group for your individual situation.