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How Do You Know If You Have Vascular Dementia

Is There Treatment Available

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While no treatment can reverse damage that has already been done, treatment to prevent additional strokes is very important. To prevent strokes, medicines to control high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes can be prescribed. A healthy diet, exercise and avoidance of smoking and excessive alcohol also lessen the risk of further strokes. Sometimes aspirin or other drugs are prescribed to prevent clots from forming in the small blood vessels.

Drugs can also be prescribed to relieve restlessness or depression or to help the person with dementia to sleep better. In some cases surgery known as carotid endarterectomy may be recommended to remove blockage in the carotid artery, the main blood vessel to the brain. Recent research suggests that cholinesterase inhibitor medications such as Donepezil and Galantamine , which are helpful for some people with Alzheimer’s disease, may also be of some benefit to some people with Vascular dementia. However, the evidence is not yet as clear or compelling as that for the use of these medications with Alzheimer’s disease.

Support is available for the person with Vascular dementia, their families and carers. This support can make a positive difference to managing the condition. Dementia Australia provides support, information, education and counselling for people affected by dementia. Up-to-date information about drug treatments is also available from Dementia Australia.

What Happens In Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia can cause different symptoms depending on where the blood vessels are damaged in the brain. For example, a person who had a stroke may have sudden problems with memory, balance, or speech. However, a person can have several strokes that may be unnoticeably small, but the damage can add up over time.

Many people with vascular dementia have trouble with memory. Others may have difficulty with organization and solving complex problems, slowed thinking, or being easily distracted. People with vascular dementia may also have changes in mood or behavior, such as irritability, loss of interest, or depression.

Sometimes, people with vascular dementia have trouble with balance and movement. This might include weakness on one side of the body, and the symptoms may get worse over time.

Caring For The Caregiver

Providing care for a person with dementia is physically and emotionally demanding. Feelings of anger and guilt, frustration and discouragement, worry and grief, and social isolation are common. But paying attention to your own needs and well-being is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and for the person in your care.

If you’re a caregiver:

  • Learn as much about the disease as you can. Ask your primary care doctor or neurologist about good sources of information. Your local librarian also can help you find good resources.
  • Ask questions of doctors, social workers and others involved in the care of your loved one.
  • members for help when you need it.
  • Take a break every day.
  • Take care of your health by seeing your own doctors on schedule, eating healthy meals and getting exercise.
  • Make time for friends, and consider joining a support group.

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Can Dementia Suddenly Get Worse

The progression of dementia depends on the underlying disease. Some diseases have a rapid progression. Others progress more slowly. Any sudden change with either slow or rapid progression should be evaluated for another cause. In most cases, changes with dementia may seem like they came out of the blue when they actually may have been slowly developing in the background. The best way to prepare for changes and manage expectations is through information. Your doctor and medical team will be a valuable resource. There are a variety of educational resources that are also available through the Alzheimer’s Association.

What Is Vascular Dementia

Seven things you may not know about vascular dementia

Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. It’s caused when decreased blood flow damages brain tissue. Blood flow to brain tissue may be reduced by a partial blockage or completely blocked by a blood clot.

Symptoms of vascular dementia may develop gradually, or may become apparent after a stroke or major surgery, such as heart bypass surgery or abdominal surgery.

Dementia and other related diseases and conditions are hard to tell apart because they share similar signs and symptoms. Although vascular dementia is caused by problems with blood flow to the brain, this blood flow problem can develop in different ways. Examples of vascular dementia include:

  • Mixed dementia. This type occurs when symptoms of both vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s exist.
  • Multi-infarct dementia. This occurs after repeated small, often “silent,” blockages affect blood flow to a certain part of the brain. The changes that occur after each blockage may not be apparent, but over time, the combined effect starts to cause symptoms of impairment. Multi-infarct dementia is also called vascular cognitive impairment.

Researchers think that vascular dementia will become more common in the next few decades because:

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How Does Vascular Dementia Develop

Changes in a persons condition as a result of TIAs or a larger stroke are often sudden, before their condition plateaus. But the damage caused often means the person does not function quite the same way as they did before.

The signs and symptoms of vascular dementia depend on which area of the brain has been affected. Language, reading, writing and communication can be affected in vascular dementia. Memory problems may not be an issue initially, if this area of the brain has not been damaged, although they may occur later on.

How Is Vascular Dementia Linked To Stroke

When you have a stroke, the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off, killing brain cells. The damage from a stroke can cause problems with memory and thinking. For many people, these problems improve over time. If the problems dont improve or get worse this may be a sign of vascular dementia.

Vascular dementia can also be caused by a series of small strokes. These result in lots of small areas of damage in your brain. Often, these strokes can be so small that you don’t know you are having them. These are known as silent strokes.

Sometimes symptoms of vascular dementia can be confused with the effects of stroke. Both stroke and vascular dementia can cause problems with memory, thinking and mood. Strokes happen suddenly while the symptoms of vascular dementia often get worse over time. The difference is that vascular dementia gets worse over time. If youre unsure, go to see your GP.

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How Is Vascular Dementia Diagnosed And Treated

To diagnose vascular dementia, a doctor may ask about problems with daily activities, conduct memory or thinking tests, and speak with someone who knows the person well to see if symptoms of dementia are present. Medical history, lifestyle, and brain imaging tests are often used to help determine whether vascular dementia is the cause of symptoms.

No treatments are available to reverse brain damage that has been caused by a stroke. Treatment for vascular dementia focuses on preventing future strokes. Medications to prevent strokes, such as blood thinners, may help decrease the risk of further damage to the brain. Medications that help treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease might benefit people with early vascular dementia. A doctor may also recommend treating risk factors, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, through medications and lifestyle changes.

What Are The 7 Stages Of Vascular Dementia

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Vascular dementia is among the most common types of dementia, along with Alzheimers disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.

Since the most common type of dementia is Alzheimers, many people are unaware of the conditions that can lead to other types of dementia.

Vascular dementia can occur after blood cells in the brain are damaged, which can occur after a stroke, for example.

Learn what the seven stages of vascular dementia are, the causes, the risk factors, and how to support a loved one who may be experiencing symptoms.

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Small Vessel Disease And Vascular Cognitive Impairment

Vascular dementia can also be caused by small vessel disease. This is when the small blood vessels deep within your brain become narrow and clogged up. The damage stops blood from getting to parts of your brain. The damage can build up over time and may cause signs of vascular cognitive impairment. This can eventually lead to vascular dementia.

Many of the things that increase your risk of small vessel disease, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, also increase your risk of stroke.

You can read more about how to reduce your risk of stroke and small vessel disease.

Early Symptoms Of Dementia

Overview

Dementia is a collection of symptoms that can occur due to a variety of possible diseases. Dementia symptoms include impairments in thought, communication, and memory.

If you or your loved one is experiencing memory problems, dont immediately conclude that its dementia. A person needs to have at least two types of impairment that significantly interfere with everyday life to receive a dementia diagnosis.

In addition to difficulty remembering, the person may also experience impairments in:

  • language
  • reasoning

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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.

Disregard For Personal Hygiene And Grooming

Stages and Progression of Lewy Body Dementia

Another one on the list of vascular dementia symptoms that I want to reveal in this article and want all of my readers to know and consider going to see a doctor if you are experiencing this symptom.

Dementia has an effect on the brain, so people with vascular dementia often forget to take a bath, brush their teeth, comb their hair, change their clothes, clip their fingernails and even use the toilet. Gradually, they start to have no interest in grooming as well as personal hygiene. They may even forget when they brushed their teeth or took a bath last time. Even, they may refuse any kind of help to preserve their own self-respect.

These symptoms will be able to be noticed in people who gave much concern toward personal hygiene and cleanliness in the past, but have now stopped grooming or keeping themselves clean.

This is also a great one on the list of the early vascular dementia symptoms that people should not look down, but learn and consider dealing with it as soon as possible.

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Managing The Effects Of Vascular Dementia

The drugs that are routinely prescribed for Alzheimers disease do not have benefits for vascular dementia and are not recommended for it. If vascular dementia is caused by or related to heart disease, diabetes, or strokes, changing lifestyle and taking medication to control these conditions may prevent dementia from getting worse. Regular health checks are advisable so physical health can be monitored and appropriate interventions given which may include medication for an underlying condition e.g. diabetes, high cholesterol level, heart disease and vascular problems. Advice should also be given on diet, activity, smoking cessation and alcohol consumption.

If someone is depressed, anxious, or finding it difficult to come to terms with the diagnosis, counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy or medication may also be recommended.

Stroke Blocking A Brain Artery

Most strokes result in a blocked brain artery and can cause symptoms that may include vascular dementia. However, some strokes may not result in any noticeable symptoms, but will still increase your risk for vascular dementia. Whether it’s an apparent or a silent stroke, the risk for vascular dementia increases with the number of strokes. In fact, multi-infarct dementia is a type of vascular dementia that involves several strokes.

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List Of Vascular Dementia Symptoms The Early Symptoms

Vascular dementia symptoms can vary as they depend on which brain area has been damaged and the severity of the damages on the blood vessel. In this article, I will reveal some of the early vascular dementia symptoms in details, so you should not skip out these interesting health facts as well as the list of symptoms that are easily seen in patients with vascular dementia. These symptoms include:

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A primary care doctor can perform a physical exam and find out more about your symptoms to determine what may be the cause. They will likely refer you to one or several specialists that can perform specific tests to diagnose dementia. Specialists may include neurologists, who specialize in the brain and nervous system psychiatrists or psychologists, who specialize in mental health, mental functions, and memory or geriatricians, who specialize in healthcare for older adults.

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Mood Swings And Rapid Agitation

Changes in mood becoming increasingly depressed, fearful, suspicious or anxious can also be a sign of dementia. In fact, mild depression is so common among patients who suffer from dementia. A study published in 2022 showed that depression occurs late in life will increase the risk of getting dementia.

Because of frequent mood swings, there may be some change occurring in the persons personality. For example, a person is shy in nature and suddenly can become outgoing. The person also may become easily upset when someone else is out of their comfort zone or when their routine is disrupted.

These early symptoms of mood swings are difficult to recognize in ones self, yet are easily noticed by others.

In fact, this is also among the early vascular dementia symptoms, so people should not ignore these symptoms, yet go to see a doctor as soon as possible.

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What Diagnosis Falls Under Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimers disease is a diagnosis in itself. When it is noticeable clinically and identified early on, the formal diagnosis may be Mild Cognitive Impairment due to Alzheimers disease which may later develop into a diagnosis of dementia due to Alzheimers disease.

  • Alzheimers Association. Stages of Alzheimers. Accessed May 27, 2021.
  • National Institute on Aging. Alzheimers Disease Fact Sheet. Content reviewed May 2019. Accessed May 27, 2021.
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    Tests For Vascular Dementia

    There’s no single test for vascular dementia.

    The tests that are needed to make a diagnosis include:

    • an assessment of symptoms for example, whether these are typical symptoms of vascular dementia
    • a full medical history, including asking about a history of conditions related to vascular dementia, such as strokes or high blood pressure
    • an assessment of mental abilities this will usually involve several tasks and questions
    • a brain scan, such as an MRI scan or CT scan, to look for any changes that have happened in your brain

    Find out more about the tests used to diagnose dementia.

    Stage : Moderate Dementia

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    Patients in stage 5 need some assistance in order to carry out their daily lives. The main sign for stage 5 dementia is the inability to remember major details such as the name of a close family member or a home address. Patients may become disoriented about the time and place, have trouble making decisions, and forget basic information about themselves, such as a telephone number or address.

    While moderate dementia can interfere with basic functioning, patients at this stage do not need assistance with basic functions such as using the bathroom or eating. Patients also still have the ability to remember their own names and generally the names of spouses and children.

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    Can Different Patterns Of Brain Damage Lead To Vascular Dementia

    Yes, there are different terms for vascular dementia that reflect the number and type of blood vessels involved and the way the symptoms progress.

    • Multi-infarct dementia: Multi means many, and infarct means stroke, so multi-infarct means many strokes that affect blood flow to multiple areas of your brain. Changes from these strokes are often noticeable when they happen, and so cognitive changes occur in a step-wise fashion .
    • Binswanger disease: This is a term for vascular dementia that happens when small blood vessels located throughout white matter are blocked over time by atherosclerosis . This type of dementia, also called subcortical vascular dementia, occurs gradually over time .
    • Vascular dementia from a strategic single-infarct: Vascular dementia can occur after only one stroke if the blockage destroys brain tissue thats needed for more than one thinking ability.

    What Can You Do

    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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    Progression And Later Stages Of Vascular Dementia

    Vascular dementia will generally get worse, although the speed and pattern of this decline vary.

    Stroke-related dementia often progresses in a ‘stepped’ way, with long periods when symptoms are stable and periods when symptoms rapidly get worse. This is because each additional stroke causes further damage to the brain. Subcortical vascular dementia may occasionally follow this stepped progression, but more often symptoms get worse gradually, as the area of affected white matter slowly expands.

    Over time a person with vascular dementia is likely to develop more severe confusion or disorientation, and further problems with reasoning and communication. Memory loss, for example for recent events or names, will also become worse. The person is likely to need more support with day-to-day activities such as cooking or cleaning.

    As vascular dementia progresses, many people also develop behaviours that seem unusual or out of character. The most common include irritability, agitation, aggressive behaviour and a disturbed sleep pattern. Someone may also act in socially inappropriate ways.

    Occasionally a person with vascular dementia will strongly believe things that are not true or – less often – see things that are not really there . These behaviours can be distressing and a challenge for all involved.

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