Vascular dementia occurs when cells below the surface of the brain (the cortex) receive an inadequate supply of oxygen and nutrients and, in turn, die. This process is due to hardening of the blood vessels within the white matter of the brain, which affects the blood supply. As a result, the oxygen and nutrient supply to the neurons and their supporting cells are also affected.
The exact cause is unknown. However, factors that play a role in causing the disease include:
can occur together, making the diagnosis of one over the other difficult. Other factors that increase the risk of the disease include:
High blood pressure (the most closely associated risk factor)
Hardening of blood vessels (atherosclerosis and lipohyalinosis)
Conditions that cause the blood to clot
In some patients, symptoms appear suddenly with neurologic changes like those caused by a stroke. Sometimes, the small strokes that lead to vascular dementia can happen without other symptoms. This makes the condition difficult to detect.
In some cases, symptoms may stabilize or even improve. However, in most patients, the disease continues to progress.
The main symptoms of vascular dementia include:
Progressive deterioration of:
Cognitive and motor abilities
Progressive memory loss
Slow, unsteady gait
Focal neurologic symptoms
Other symptoms that may be present in people with this disease include:
There is no known cure for vascular dementia. Most patients die within 5-10 years after onset of the disease. Minimizing risk factors and alleviating symptoms are important in trying to slow disease progression and improve quality of life.
Medications can be given to help limit or control symptoms and possibly slow progression of the disease. These include:
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a