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Can Vascular Dementia Turn Into Alzheimer

The Cause Of Vascular Dementia

What is vascular dementia?

Vascular dementia is normally caused by blood flow being restricted from the brain. Were talking about things like strokes, transient ischemic attack , or heart attacks. They can cause massive disruptions in the normal functions of the human body.

It is estimated that 10-20% of all Dementia cases are diagnosed as vascular dementia, making it the second most common form of dementia. About 1%-4% of these cases layover into Alzheimers too.

Though vascular dementia is a common type of Dementia, it cant always be classified into the general early stages, middle stages, or late stages. It really comes down to the person and the severity of the event that triggered it in the first place. Some cases result in people closer to early signs of Alzheimers. Others find themselves thrust towards the middle or late stages.

The common risk factors associated with vascular dementia are diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, or peripheral artery disease. Vascular dementia can also come in a variety of forms like mixed dementia. Sometimes patients show signs of both vascular dementia and Alzheimers.

Women are also more susceptible to getting Alzheimers. The fact that women live longer means they are more likely to suffer from dementia.

Stage : Age Associated Memory Impairment

This stage features occasional lapses of memory most frequently seen in:

  • Forgetting where one has placed an object
  • Forgetting names that were once very familiar

Oftentimes, this mild decline in memory is merely normal age-related cognitive decline, but it can also be one of the earliest signs of degenerative dementia. At this stage, signs are still virtually undetectable through clinical testing. Concern for early onset of dementia should arise with respect to other symptoms.

The Differences Between Vascular Dementia Vs Alzheimers

These diseases have the overall same effect, but you start to see major differences once you start to understand how they happen. One of the major differences with vascular dementia and Alzheimers is the fashion they show themselves.

Vascular dementia tends to almost come and go with different variations of severity. One minute your loved one could be the old them and the next could see episodes of Dementia the likes of which you have never seen. They call the fashion in which vascular dementia displays itself as a step-like progression. In other words, it comes and goes.

On the other hand, we have Alzheimers. Though the outcome is generally the same, the progression of Alzheimers is more of a downward slope. There arent really any moments of bouncing in and out of symptoms. Instead, it tends to simply get worse as the days go on. Although this process tends to be more gradual, you wont see the bounce backs like you would with vascular dementia.

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Lifestyle Changes To Improve Vascular Dementia Symptoms

A diagnosis of dementia is scary. But its important to remember that many people with dementia can lead healthy, fulfilling lives for years after the diagnosis. Dont give up on life! As much as possible, continue to look after your physical and emotional health, do the things you love to do, and spend time with family and friends.

The same strategies used to keep your brain healthy as you age and prevent the onset of dementia can also be used to improve symptoms.

Find new ways to get moving. Research suggests that even a leisurely 30-minute walk every day may reduce the risk of vascular dementia and help slow its progression. Regular exercise can also help control your weight, relieve stress, and boost your overall health and happiness.

Create a network of support. Seeking help and encouragement from friends, family, health care experts, and support groups can improve your outlook and your health. And its never to late to make new friends and expand your network.

Eat for heart health. Heart disease and stroke share many of the same risk factors, such as high LDL cholesterol , low HDL cholesterol , and high blood pressure. Adopting a heart-healthy diet may help to improve or slow down your dementia symptoms.

Make it a point to have more fun.Laughing, playing, and enjoying yourself are great ways to reduce stress and worry. Joy can energize you and inspire lifestyle changes that may prevent further strokes and compensate for memory and cognitive losses.

What Can You Do

Vascular Dementia vs Alzheimers: The Pathophysiology of Dementia

A healthy lifestyle is important to help reduce risk factors of vascular dementia. This includes eating well, limiting alcohol, not smoking, exercising, and managing stress.

If you are concerned about vascular dementia symptoms, talk with your doctor. If you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed, explore the resources on this website and linked below to find out more about the disease, care, support, and research.

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Are There Medicines To Treat Vascular Dementia

Though there is no cure for vascular dementia yet, there are medications that can help manage the symptoms. Sometimes medications used to treat memory problems in Alzheimers disease may be helpful for vascular dementia. Sometimes, people with vascular dementia can have mood changes, such as depression or irritability. These can be managed by medications like the ones used for depression or anxiety.

What Increases The Risk For Dementia

  • AgeThe strongest known risk factor for dementia is increasing age, with most cases affecting those of 65 years and older
  • Family historyThose who have parents or siblings with dementia are more likely to develop dementia themselves.
  • Race/ethnicityOlder African Americans are twice more likely to have dementia than whites. Hispanics 1.5 times more likely to have dementia than whites.
  • Poor heart healthHigh blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking increase the risk of dementia if not treated properly.
  • Traumatic brain injuryHead injuries can increase the risk of dementia, especially if they are severe or occur repeatedly.

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Treating Alzheimers Disease Vs Other Types Of Dementia

Neither Alzheimerâs nor most other types of dementia have a cure. Doctors focus treatments on managing symptoms and keeping the disease from getting worse.

Some of the treatments for dementia and Alzheimerâs overlap.

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors can help with memory loss in certain types of dementia and Alzheimerâs.
  • Glutamate inhibitors help with learning and memory in both dementia and Alzheimerâs.
  • Sleep medications may help with sleep changes.
  • Antidepressants can help with depression symptoms.
  • Antipsychotic medications may help with behavior changes.

Some types of dementia respond to treatment, depending on what is causing it. Your doctor may recommend:

  • Stopping the use of drugs and alcohol
  • Tumor removal

Show Sources

Alzheimerâs Association: âCreutzfeldt-Jakob Disease,â âFrontotemporal Dementia,â âTypes of Dementia,â âWhat is Alzheimerâs?â

Alzheimerâs Disease International: âWorld Alzheimerâs Report 2015.â

Alzheimerâs Society: âSight, perception and hallucinations in dementia.â

BrightFocus Foundation: âWhatâs the Difference Between Dementia & Alzheimerâs Disease?â âTreatments for Alzheimerâs Disease.â

Dementia Society of America: âDementia FAQs.â

Fisher Center for Alzheimerâs Research Foundation: âDementia vs. Alzheimerâs.â

Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio: âAlzheimerâs Versus Dementia.â

Mayo Clinic: âAlzheimerâs Disease,â âDementia.â

Cleveland Clinic: âDementia.â

What Are The Types Of Dementia

The contribution of vascular disease to cognitive impairment and Alzheimers pathology

Dementias are often broken down into two main categories — Alzheimer type or non-Alzheimer type. Dementias of the Alzheimers disease type are defined by the symptoms of memory loss plus impairment in other brain functions, such as language function inability to move the muscles associated with speech or perception, visual or other inabilities to recognize speech or name objects .

Non-Alzheimer dementias include the frontotemporal lobar degenerations, which are further broken down into two main types. One type primarily affects speech. An example is primary progressive aphasia syndromes. The other type is defined by changes in behavior, including lack of feeling, emotion, interest or concern loss of a social filter personality change and loss of executive functions . In both of these frontotemporal lobe dementias, memory loss is relatively mild until later in the course of the disease.

Other non-Alzheimers disease dementias include vascular disorders , dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinson’s dementia, and normal pressure hydrocephalus.

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What Other Things Help

In addition to medications, there are various ways to help a person with vascular dementia. Research has shown that physical exercise and maintaining a healthy weight help to enhance brain health and reduce the risk of heart problems, stroke and other diseases that affect blood vessels. A balanced diet, enough sleep and limited alcohol intake are other important ways to promote good brain health and reduce the risk for heart disease. Other illnesses that affect the brain, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, should also be treated if present.

Cerebrovascular Dysfunction In Ad

Later investigations focused on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of the vascular dysfunction. Park et al. demonstrated that the cerebrovascular effects of A are mediated by ROS derived from the enzyme nicotinamide-adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase and that genetic deletion of the Nox2 subunit of this enzyme fully rescued the vascular and cognitive dysfunction in AD mice without affecting amyloid plaque load. A-generated ROS mediate vascular dysfunction by leading to activation of transient receptor potential melastatin-2 channels, which induce Ca2+ overload in cerebral endothelial cells . Furthermore, the deleterious neurovascular and cognitive effects of A required engagement of the innate immunity receptor CD36 localized to perivascular macrophages .

In summary, these observations suggest that vascular dysfunction is an early manifestation of A accumulation, which, in conjunction with structural alterations to the cerebral microvasculature, may contribute to the disease process. This conclusion, predominantly based on basic science studies, has received support from a study in the Alzheimer Disease Neuroimaging Initiative , which showed that vascular dysfunction is the earliest biomarker of the disease.

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What Kind Of Treatment Is Available

Most people living with mixed dementia are diagnosed with just a single type of dementia. Therefore, a physician might base the choice of medication on the type of dementia that has been diagnosed.

Currently, there arent any pharmaceutical drugs available that are specifically targeted to treating mixed dementia. In situations where the physician considers Alzheimers disease to be among the conditions contributing to a persons dementia symptoms, they may prescribe the medications intended for Alzheimers disease treatment.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Post


Each area of the brain controls different functions. Therefore, the symptoms of vascular dementia vary between individuals depending on how the brain has been affected.

Some symptoms of vascular dementia can include:

  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Rapid mood swings

Its important to note that some of these symptoms alone, such as mood swings, do not necessarily signify the presence of post-stroke dementia. Many of these symptoms, when occurring alone, are common cognitive effects of a stroke. However, when many cognitive effects occur together, a doctor may diagnose it as vascular dementia.

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Getting A Diagnosis For Alzheimers Vs Vascular Dementia

Getting a diagnosis for vascular dementia or Alzheimers can be done with your doctor through a series of tests. Having the conversation about seeing a doctor to get a diagnosis might be a challenge in itself. It can be a sore point for anyone who has to take the testing. Though it might be hard to have this kind of conversation, its necessary to see a doctor for a diagnosis. All the testing is necessary to pinpoint the issue.

For vascular dementia, doctors run tests on patients that test their basic function skills. They test their cognitive behavior, communication skills, judgment, and memory with several predetermined tests. They typically use these tests in conjunction with an MRI to help determine if the patient truly suffers from dementia.

For Alzheimers, the process is generally similar. With Alzheimers, however, its more of a test to eliminate all other possibilities. Things like a lack of vitamin B12 can lead to similar memory issues like those found in early-onset dementia. If there are no other direct correlations to memory loss , Alzheimers is likely the diagnosis. If you or a loved one starts to experience the signs of dementia, its time to start talking to a doctor. The pathophysiology of dementia is vast in variety but similar in nature across the board.

Risk Factors And Prevention

Although age is the strongest known risk factor for dementia, it is not an inevitable consequence of biological ageing. Further, dementia does not exclusively affect older people young onset dementia accounts for up to 9% of cases. Studies show that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline and dementia by being physically active, not smoking, avoiding harmful use of alcohol, controlling their weight, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Additional risk factors include depression, social isolation, low educational attainment, cognitive inactivity and air pollution.

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Vascular Dementia Prognosis And Life Expectancy

Now that you have a better idea of what a vascular dementia diagnosis could look like, I am sure you are wondering, what is vascular dementia life expectancy? It is hard to accept, but there is no cure right now for vascular dementia. Treatment can slow the progression of symptoms, but the damage done to the brain cant be reversed.

Life expectancy with vascular dementia can be hard to talk about, but the truth is that it does appear to shorten life. The most common cause of death is usually complications of dementia linked to cardiovascular disease. It is also important to know that life expectancy for someone with vascular dementia can be cut even shorter if the person has another stroke or heart attack in addition to the brain damage.

We cant say for certain what stroke dementia life expectancy is because the symptoms vary from person-to-person, and as you can tell from the stages outlined above, the outcome can depend on how far the disease is in each sufferer. If there are other health conditions, it could have a significant impact on life expectancy. Age also plays a large role in each case. Depending on the stage of dementia, both medications and lifestyle adjustments can be applied to help prevent the disease from worsening.

  • 85 89
  • 95 99
  • 100 -106

If you are concerned about end-stage vascular life expectancy, you should discuss it with a qualified healthcare professional.

How Is Vascular Dementia Treated

How to increase activity for someone with dementia

Vascular dementia can’t be cured. The main goal is to treat the underlying conditions that affect the blood flow to the brain. This can help cut the risk of further damage to brain tissue.

Such treatments may include:

  • Medicines to manage blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, diabetes, and problems with blood clotting
  • Lifestyle changes, such as following a healthy diet, getting physical activity, quitting smoking, and quitting or decreasing alcohol consumption
  • Procedures to improve blood flow to the brain, such as carotid endarterectomy, angioplasty, and stenting the carotid arteries are located in the neck and provide blood flow from the heart to the brain
  • Medicines, such as cholinesterase inhibitors to treat the symptoms of dementia or antidepressants to help with depression or other symptoms

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Who Is At Risk For Vascular Dementia

Some risk factors for vascular dementia can be managed others, like age and gender, cannot. Among all factors, high blood pressure carries the greatest risk vascular dementia almost never occurs without it.

Likewise, a high risk of stroke goes hand in hand with risk for vascular dementia. One-quarter to one-third of strokes are thought to result in some degree of dementia. People who smoke, consume excessive amounts of alcohol, have diabetes, or heart disease also have a higher rate of the condition.

Vascular dementia most commonly occurs in people between the ages of 60 and 75. Men seem to be more vulnerable than women, and the condition affects African-Americans more often than other races. People whose age, sex, or race puts them at increased risk of vascular dementia have that much more reason to manage risk factors within their control.

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.

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The Similarities Between Vascular Dementia And Alzheimers

Vascular dementia and Alzheimers have some symptoms that overlap, and others that dont. Its important to understand the difference between the two so you can tailor your care as needed. Its also important to understand the similarities to see where the general confusion about the two lies.

It may not come as much of a surprise, but these two forms of dementia can result in similar issues in a loved one as they start to age past 65. As the years start to stack up, the chances of seeing some form of cognitive decline start to go up with them.

Although these diseases are completely different in nature, it has been found that exercise and a heart-healthy diet can really help fight both forms of dementia. Both forms of dementia can take on an early stage, middle stage, and late-stage dementia traits. Vascular dementia comes down to many different factors for its starting point. Alzheimers is more gradual.

When you boil it down dementia vs Alzheimers or vascular dementia, Alzheimers and vascular dementia are two types of the same disease: dementia.


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