Be Consistent With Your Regimen
Consistency is key when it comes to stroke recovery. If you work on your rehabilitation just a little bit each day, you will see big results over the long-run. If you become inconsistent, however, you put yourself at risk of backsliding and regression. Not only may skipping your home exercises result in regression, but overdoing them may also undo your progress.
Your brain is rapidly trying to heal itself through the phenomenon of neuroplasticity, which is how your brain rewires itself and forms new neural connections.
Consistent stimulation is the best way to rewire your brain. Without consistency, the new connections in your brain can start to weaken and you might lose all of your hard work.
How Does High Blood Pressure Cause Vascular Dementia
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can , making them weaker or narrower, and more likely to burst or become blocked. This restricts the blood supply to parts of the brain, so not enough oxygen and nutrients can reach the brain cells, damaging that part of the brain.
There are three main ways high blood pressure can affect the blood supply to the brain and cause vascular dementia:
- Damage to the blood vessels in the brain the blood vessels can become narrow and stiff, known as small vessel disease. This is the most common cause of vascular dementia
- Stroke a is where a blood vessel in the brain becomes blocked or bursts, cutting off the blood supply to part of the brain and causing damage. This is known as post-stroke dementia
- TIA , also known as a mini stroke a series of can gradually cause damage. This is known as multi infarct dementia
How Can I Prevent Stroke
In many cases, vascular dementia is preventable. Risk factors for stroke and vascular dementia include
- high blood pressure,
- smoking, and
For many people, risk can be reduced by adopting a healthy lifestyle. People who have had a stroke may be able to reduce their risk of further strokes by drug treatment or surgery in addition to adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Read Also: Color For Alzheimer’s Ribbon
Lack Of Stroke Awareness
Anosognosia is a mental health condition in which people are unable to accept their diagnosis. For stroke survivors, anosognosia can mean overconfidence and a lack of awareness that anything is wrong after a stroke. A person who has anosognosia may be surprised at the fact that there is any medical care being given at all.
Stroke survivors who have anosognosia present a challenging problem for loved ones and caregivers who try to offer assistance. The care they provide is often met with no cooperation. Sometimes stroke survivors who have anosognosia treat those who are trying to help them with dismissal or rejection.
Outlook For Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia will usually get worse over time. This can happen in sudden steps, with periods in between where the symptoms do not change much, but it’s difficult to predict when this will happen.
Although treatment can help, vascular dementia can significantly shorten life expectancy.
But this is highly variable, and many people live for several years with the condition, or die from some other cause.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, remember that you’re not alone. The NHS and social services, as well as voluntary organisations, can provide advice and support for you and your family.
Recommended Reading: Alzheimer’s Color Ribbon
Research Into The Cause Of Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia is the second most commonly diagnosed type of dementia, and may account for 15 – 20% of all cases. Vascular dementia is caused by chronic reduced blood flow to the brain, usually as a result of a stroke or series of strokes. It can often coexist with Alzheimer’s disease.
Stroke, small vessel disease, or a mixture of the two can cause vascular dementia. Most commonly there is a blockage of small blood vessels somewhere in the network of arteries that feeds the brain. Blockages may be caused by plaque build up on the inside of the artery wall, or by blood clots which have broken loose. Clots can form as a result of abnormal heart rhythms, or other heart abnormalities. Also, a weak patch on an artery wall can balloon outward and form an aneurysm, which can burst and deprive brain cells of oxygen.
It is estimated that about 50% of cases of vascular dementia result from high blood pressure, which can lead to a major stroke or a series of strokes and a build up of brain damage over time. Less common causes of vascular dementia are associated with autoimmune inflammatory diseases of the arteries such as lupus and temporal arteritis, which are treatable with drugs that suppress the immune system.
An inherited form of vascular dementia known as CADASIL is caused by a mutation on the Notch3 gene. This is a very rare form of dementia and only affects families carrying the Notch3 gene mutation.
What Is The Risk Of Vascular Dementia After Stroke
Vascular dementia could be caused by a stroke or other conditions that impact the supply of blood in the brain, such as poor circulation.
A persons risk of post-stroke dementia increases with the number of strokes they experience. For example, a large study of over 5,000 stroke survivors found that the rate of vascular dementia was around 9% in those who had only suffered one stroke. In those who had experienced more than one stroke, however, the rate increased to 25%. The risk of vascular dementia also increases with age.
Because a stroke is a vascular disease that impacts the arteries, the same factors that increase the risk of stroke also increase the risk of vascular dementia. This means that conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol all increase the risk of vascular dementia.
Not all strokes cause vascular dementia, though. Every stroke is different and every person experiences different effects following a stroke. For example, a massive stroke may cause paralysis while very mild strokes may not cause any noticeable secondary effects at all.
However, just because a person does not experience many effects after a stroke does not mean they wont develop vascular dementia. The best way to reduce the risk of vascular dementia is to improve the health of your arteries and blood flow by managing any vascular diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.
Read Also: Does Prevagen Help Dementia
Can Having A Stroke Increase Your Risk For Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia can make it difficult for you to process information. Although its a common post-stroke problem, not everyone who has a stroke is at risk for vascular dementia. Your risk depends on the location and severity of your stroke. Your age, sex, and family history are also factors.
In a 2012 study, one researcher reviewed nine studies on dementia in people whove had a stroke. In total, the study looked at 5,514 people with pre- or post-stroke dementia. The study found that rates of post-stroke dementia were between 9.6 and 14.4 percent in people whove had one stroke. This rate increased to 29.6 to 53.1 percent in people with recurrent stroke.
Its worth noting that adults over age 65 who have a high risk of stroke also have a high risk of dementia unrelated to stroke. In the same 2012 study, it was determined that stroke is a risk factor for dementia, and dementia is a risk factor for stroke.
Rates from 9 studies show that about 10 percent of people whove had a stroke will develop dementia within the first year after the stroke.
Cognitive Disorder Following A Stroke
Dementia is associated with neurodegenerative disorder diversity, neuronal dysfunction, and neuronal death. Dementia occurs when the brain is affected by a specific disease or condition that causes cognitive impairment.13 In the case of a stroke, one or more cognitive domains may be affected, including attention, memory, language, and orientation. The highest impact of stroke at the time of diagnosis is on the attention and executive functions rather than on memory, which may be impaired at various post-stroke intervals. Previous studies show that post-stroke memory prevalence varies from 23% to 55% 3 months after stroke, ending with a decline from 11% to 31% 1 year after stroke onset.3,14 Cognitive impairment after a stroke is common and leads to PSD. PSD includes all dementia types that occur after a stroke, including VaD degenerative dementia, particularly Alzheimers disease or mixed dementia .2 VaD, the second leading cause of dementia in the world after AD, occurs as a result of stroke. Between 1% and 4% of elderly people aged 65 years and older suffer from VaD, and its prevalence will double every 510 years after this age.15,16 VaD is characterized by impairment in the cognitive function due to vascular lesion and infarction resulting from the stroke. The clinical manifestation of VaD varies based on the size, location, and type of cerebral damage.15Figure 4 illustrates the cognitive impairment sequences which predispose individuals to the VCI spectrum.
Also Check: 7th Stage Of Alzheimer’s
Stage : Increase In Forgetfulness
In stage two, we will notice forgetting where we put things, what we were doing, appointments, etc. These changes will likely not be noticeable by others. Everyone forgets thingsfolks with dementia report failing to remember the little things more before diagnosis.
Everyone with dementia becomes more forgetful, but not everyone who is forgetful has dementia.
What to do
So what do you do if you cant find your car keys? First, dont panic. Fear makes outcomes worse. Second, remember that you didnt call it a junior moment when you forgot them as a teen. If forgetting becomes a pattern, use reminders to help. Try post-it notes, reminder apps on the phone, or smart home devices.
Still Cant Figure Out Whats Causing Your Regression
If you cant identify the cause of your regression, then try talking with your physiatrist, neurologist, or therapist. he might be able to help identify whats going wrong.
Post-stroke regression is a mysterious phenomenon, though, and doctors are often unable to pinpoint exactly whats causing the regression.
If that happens to you, dont freak out. There are plenty of actions that you can take to likely start progressing on the road to recovery again.
Read Also: Dementia Ribbon Tattoo
Living With Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia is a progressive disease that has no cure, but the rate at which the disease progresses can vary. Some people with vascular dementia may eventually need a high level of care due to the loss of mental and physical abilities. Family members may be able to care for a person with vascular dementia early on. But if the disease progresses, the person may need more specialized care.
Respite programs, adult daycare programs, and other resources can help the caregiver get some time away from the demands of caring for a loved one with vascular dementia.
Long-term care facilities that specialize in the care of people with dementias, Alzheimer’s, and other related conditions are often available if a person affected by vascular dementia can no longer be cared for at home. Your healthcare provider can recommend caregiver resources.
What Is The Medical Treatment For Stroke
Drug therapies in vascular dementia include those that prevent clotting and treat underlying vascular risk factors to prevent further progression of dementia. Drug therapies may also treat associated symptoms like depression.
- Antiplatelet agents: These are medications that inhibit blood clotting by altering platelet function and aggregation. Platelet inhibition is a mild form of blood thinning. These agents help prevent recurrent stroke.
- Antihypertensive agents: These drugs reduce blood pressure and thus help prevent strokes.
- Other agents may be given to treat additional risk factors for stroke .
- Antidepressant agents: Severe depression is a very common mood disorder in vascular dementia and may contribute to cognitive decline. Treating the depression with medication may not only relieve the depression but also improve mental functioning.
If you take medications for other medical conditions, your health care provider may adjust or change these medications. Some drugs can worsen dementia symptoms.
Symptoms such as social inappropriateness and aggression may improve with various behavior-changing interventions. Some interventions focus on helping the individual adjust or control his or her behavior. Others focus on helping caregivers and other family members change the person’s behavior. These approaches sometimes work better when combined with drug treatment.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
Read Also: Ribbon For Alzheimer’s
Treatment For Dementia After A Head Injury
The head-injured person who has become demented will benefit from any of the following:
- Family or network intervention
- Social services
One goal of these interventions is to help the head-injured person adapt to their injury cognitively and emotionally. Another is to help the person master skills and behaviors that will help them reach personal goals. These interventions also help family members learn ways that they can help the head-injured person and themselves cope with the challenges a head injury poses.These interventions can be especially important in establishing realistic expectations for outcome and pace of improvement.
Behavior modification has been shown to be very helpful in rehabilitation of brain-injured persons. These techniques may be used to discourage impulsive, aggressive, or socially inappropriate behaviors. They also help counteract the apathy and withdrawal common in head-injured persons.
- Behavior modification rewards desired behaviors and discourages undesirable behaviors by withdrawing rewards. The goals and rewards are, of course, tailored to each individual. The family usually becomes involved to help reinforce the desired behaviors.
- Persons who have insomnia or other sleep disturbances are taught “sleep hygiene.” This instills daytime and bedtime habits that promote restful sleep. Sleeping pills are generally avoided in persons with head injury, who are more sensitive to the side effects of these drugs.
Other Tips For Dementia Management
In addition to cognitive rehabilitation, increasing blood flow to the brain can sometimes help improve cognitive function. Here are a few ways to increase cerebral blood flow:
- Try aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is one of the best ways to boost blood flow, which will bring more oxygen and nutrients to your brain cells and increase cognitive function. Examples of aerobic exercise include activities such as brisk walks, swimming, and bicycling.
- Lower your blood pressure. High blood pressure constricts your arteries, making it more difficult for blood to flow up to the brain. Lowering your blood pressure causes the blood vessels to dilate, which can then allow more blood to reach the brain. Decreasing your blood pressure also reduces your risk of a second stroke.
- Stay hydrated. Blood is largely made up of water. Therefore, when you are dehydrated, your blood will thicken and have a harder time moving through your arteries. Staying hydrated then will thin the blood, increase blood flow, and reduce your risk of blood clots.
These tactics can all help treat the underlying cause of vascular dementia after stroke and potentially reverse at least some of the symptoms.
You May Like: Alzheimer’s Dementia Definition
Can Dementia Get Worse Suddenly
Generally speaking, dementia progresses slowly, and many sufferers remain relatively independent for many years. Alzheimers is a very common form of dementia and people often live with moderate symptoms for a long time. Often dementia worsens as a result of an infection and treating the infection reverses the symptoms quickly.
On rare occasions something called rapidly progressive dementia occurs. This can lead to a severe deterioration in a persons condition in just a few weeks or months. At each stage of the disease, it is important to see a doctor, and any care plans can then be adjusted.
How Quickly Does Dementia Progress
For many people with dementia, progression can happen over a number of years the average falls between 4 and 10 years, but some live with the condition for 20+ years. For others, it may happen a lot faster. Things such as genetics, or previous health and medical history may play a part in how quickly dementia progresses, however the type of dementia can make a difference too.
You May Like: What Color Represents Dementia
Is There Medication For Post
While there are no medications designed specifically for vascular dementia, some drugs used on individuals with Alzheimers disease have shown promise. Alzheimers is a form of dementia, and thus shares many characteristics with vascular dementia.
One drug that may prove useful for stroke survivors is memantine. Memantine, also known as Namenda, is used to treat the effects of Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia. It does not cure these disorders, but it can slow their progression and improve certain cognitive skills such as memory and awareness.
However, memantine seems to have more effect in the early stages of vascular dementia, in that it slows down the progression. Therefore, if the patients dementia is advanced, this drug may not be as useful. Talk to your physician for more information on the benefits and risks of memantine for post-stroke dementia.
What Medications Are Available To Treat Dementia
Drugs approved for the most common form of dementia, Alzheimers disease, are discussed below. These drugs are also used to treat people with some of the other forms of dementia.
- cholinesterase inhibitors
- NMDA receptor antagonist memantine
These two classes of drugs affect different chemical processes in the brain. Both classes have been shown to provide some benefit in improving or stabilizing memory function in some patients. Although none of these drugs appear to stop the progression of the underlying disease, they may slow it down.
If other medical conditions are causing dementia or co-exist with dementia, the appropriate drugs used to treat those specific conditions are prescribed.
You May Like: Does Smelling Farts Help Prevent Dementia