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How Does Vascular Dementia Differ From Alzheimer’s Disease

First Signs Of Alzheimers Disease

What is vascular dementia?

The earliest symptomatic stage is called mild cognitive impairment, says Dr. Caselli. Early signs include:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing
  • Misplacing items and an inability to retrace steps
  • Changes in mood and personality

Vascular Dementia: What Is It And What Causes It

Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia , affecting around 150,000 people in the UK. Find out more about vascular dementia and what causes it.

  • You are here: Vascular dementia: what is it, and what causes it?
  • Along with all our usual information on dementia, we have more advice to support you during coronavirus.

    Difference Between Dementia And Vascular Dementia

    Categorized under Disease,Health,Science | Difference Between Dementia and Vascular Dementia

    Dementia and vascular dementia are characterized by a progressive decline of cognition and independent functioning. Regarding their differences, dementia is an overall term for conditions which are caused by abnormal brain changes. On the other hand, vascular dementia is widely regarded as the second most common type of dementia after Alzheimers disease. The following discussions further delve into these distinctions.

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    Clinical And Pathological Evidence

    The traditional characterization of AD and VD was not. unequivocally supported by data.- Significant numbers of patients were described who had predominantly brain infarcts, but an AD-like course, and vice versa. Also, the availability of advanced imaging methods lead to the recognition of diverse neuroanatomical vascular brain lesions , whose implication and etiology are still debatable but are probably the result of hypoperfusion to brain tissue.- It was also recognized that, many of the infarcts identified by imaging techniques or at postmortem examination are silent infarcts, which do not necessarily contribute to clinical expression in terms of focal signs or symptoms or cognitive impairment. Furthermore, for some VD subtypes, namely subcortical microvascular disease, mild cognitive impairment. can precede dementia and thus mimic the clinical course of AD.

    Epidemiologically, it has been demonstrated that individuals affected by vascular risk factors during midlife- are more likely to manifest, dementia associated with ADlike brain pathology in old age. Hence, it appears that most of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as diabetes, hypertension, abnormal plasma cholesterol, high intake of saturated fat, thromboembolic episodes, high fibrinogen concentrations, high serum homocysteine, atrial fibrillation, smoking, alcoholism, atherosclerosis, and apolipoprotein E4 allele, are also risk factors for AD and not exclusively for VD.

    What Is Alzheimers Disease

    vascular dementia symptoms

    Alzheimers disease is a physical disease that affects the brain. Abnormal structures called plaques and tangles build up inside the brain. These disrupt how nerve cells work and communicate with each other, and eventually cause them to die.

    There is also a shortage of some important chemicals in the brain of someone with Alzheimers disease. Reduced levels of these chemicals mean that messages dont travel around as well as they should.

    Alzheimers disease usually begins gradually with mild memory loss. The person may have difficulty recalling recent events or learning new information. Other symptoms may include difficulties finding the right words, solving problems, making decisions, or perceiving things in three dimensions.

    As Alzheimers progresses, problems with memory loss, communication, reasoning and orientation become more severe. The person will need more day-to-day support from those who care for them.

    There is currently no cure for Alzheimers disease. However, treatments may temporarily ease some symptoms or slow down their progression in some people.

    Read Also: What Is The Difference Between Dementia And Senility

    Causes And Risk Factors

    The cause depends on the type, but the exact causes of many forms of dementia are currently unclear.

    Dementia is not an inevitable part of aging, but age is one of the main risk factors. In fact, up to 50% of people aged 85 years and older may have a type of dementia.

    Also, in the United States, around 11.3% of people aged over 65 years currently have Alzheimers disease, according to the Alzheimers Association. This number rises to 34.6% in those aged 85 years and older. Symptoms tend to worsen with age.

    It is possible to develop dementia at a younger age, but the condition is more common among older adults.

    Where To Get Help

    • Your local community health service
    • Your local council
    • National Dementia Helpline Dementia Australia Tel. 1800 100 500
    • Aged Care Assessment Services Tel. 1300 135 090
    • My Aged Care Tel. 1800 200 422
    • Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinics Tel. 1300 135 090
    • Carers Victoria Tel. 1800 242 636
    • Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres Tel 1800 052 222
    • Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service Tel. 1800 699 799 for 24-hour telephone advice for carers and care workers

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    Links Between Stroke And Vascular Dementia And Alzheimers Disease

    After a few minutes or even a few seconds following IS, the IS cascade begins and can continue for hours until the disease ceases. The IS cascade involves biochemical reactions in the brain and other aerobic tissues. Dementia syndromes established after stroke were typically considered to be vascular in origin and post stroke dementia might be the significance of the effects of stroke and degenerative changes . Research linking stroke and dementia has focused on shared vascular risk factors, ameliorated by lifestyle activities or medication. Aging is the most important risk factor for stroke and dementia. Dementia occurs in up to one-third of elderly patients with stroke, a subset of whom have AD rather than a pure VaD. A mixed etiology of dementia and cerebrovascular disease was thought to become more common with increasing age, although no clinical criteria for the diagnosis of dementia with cerebrovascular diseases are currently available . Stroke doubles the risk for dementia , and approximately 30% of stroke patients go on to develop cognitive dysfunction within 3 years . The association between stroke and dementia was also observed in patients younger than 50 years, up to 50% of whom exhibit cognitive deficits after a decade .

    The Symptoms Of Vascular Dementia

    What’s the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?

    After a major stroke, the symptoms of dementia are likely to occur at the same time as the physical symptoms of stroke such as paralysis on one side of the body, difficulty walking and headache. Symptoms may include:

    • Confusion
    • Communication difficulty trouble speaking or understanding speech
    • Loss of vision

    In the case of Multi-infarct dementia or Subcortical Vascular dementia the symptoms are likely to appear as far more gradual changes in thinking and behaviour as the damage to the brain accumulates over time. Early signs may include:

    • Difficulty finding the right words
    • Loss of bladder control
    • Uncontrolled emotions laughing and crying

    Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand with vascular dementia as the person with the symptoms is aware of the difficulties they are facing, and this anxiety can in itself make the cognitive symptoms worse.

    It is important ALWAYS to consult your doctor if you experience any symptoms even if they appear to go away after a time because the symptoms may be caused by temporary interruptions in the blood flow to the brain, which left untreated, could cause permanent damage.

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    Caring For Someone With Vascular Dementia

    There is no cure for . Controlling the underlying cause of the disease may help slow the decline in mental and physical abilities. Drugs for the treatment of Alzheimers disease may also work to treat symptoms and slow the progression of vascular dementia. But eventually, people with vascular dementia will lose their independence because symptoms will interfere with their ability to care for themselves.

    At first, family members will likely be able to offer the necessary care for someone with vascular dementia. Simple reminders, structured routines, and simplified tasks can help them with daily functions. Providing cues and context can be helpful for recall. But caregivers often find behavioral and personality changes difficult to deal with because they can be distressing.

    If youre caring for a loved one with vascular dementia, support is vital. There are several types of resources available to assist caregivers. Respite care and adult daycare programs are examples. Support groups can also help caregivers work through their feelings and find comfort from those in similar situations.

    So What Is Vascular Dementia

    Vascular dementia is the result of blocked or reduced flow of blood to the brain depriving the brain cells of vital oxygen and nutrients.

    Unlike Alzheimers, where the cause remains unclear, vascular dementia is caused by a specific, acute event such as stroke or TIAs where the flow of blood to the brain is interrupted, or, small vessel disease which is the result of narrowing or blockages of the blood vessels deep inside the brain, and develops gradually over time.

    The onset of symptoms can be gradual or sudden depending on the degree of damage to the blood vessels and the particular part of the brain affected. The symptoms of dementia may become immediately obvious after a major stroke, but in the case of small vessel disease or a series of mini-strokes, where the reduction of blood flow to the brain is much more gradual, the symptoms may go completely unnoticed to start with and develop only over time.

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    How Does Vascular Dementia Differ From Alzheimers Disease

    The main difference between these 2 forms of dementia is in the way in which the symptoms begin and then progress.

    In Alzheimers disease, the symptoms tend to appear gradually, then worsen in a steady downward path. The rate of decline is usually consistent across all cognitive abilities.With Vascular Dementia, the symptoms may appear gradually or suddenly, but will then stabilize for a period of time, until another stroke causes a further sharp decline before symptoms again stabilize. In some cases, cognitive changes may even improve temporarily during recovery from the acute phase of a stroke as the brain generates new blood vessels, and brain cells outside the damaged region take on new roles. This uneven pattern through the disease is often described in terms of a stepped pattern of decline, wheras the decline in Alzheimers typically follows a straight continuous downward path.

    Another important difference lies in the fact that people with vascular dementia tend to maintain their personality, and retain certain abilities until much later stages of the disease.

    This is because Vascular Dementia affects distinct parts of the brain, while Alzheimers tends to affect the whole brain. For this reason, memory loss may not be a significant symptom in Vascular dementia if that is not the region of the brain where blood flow is reduced.

    Mixed Dementias

    Difference Between Vascular Dementia And Alzheimers

    Defying dementia: It is not inevitable

    Theres plenty of confusion regarding Vascular Dementia and Alzheimers. How do they differ, how are they similar? By having one form of dementia, does that mean that your symptoms will be more severe? Its important to understand how each form of dementia affects those who have been diagnosed so that you can take the correct preventative measures or try to manage symptoms that have already developed.

    Alzheimers Isnt the Same As Vascular Dementia

    When comparing both vascular dementia and Alzheimers, there are clear differences. Alzheimers is more common than vascular dementia, with approximately 5.3 million Americans suffering from this disease today. With that being said, its believed that approximately 20 percent of those who suffer from dementia display symptoms of vascular dementia.

    Although Alzheimers is the most common form of dementia, vascular dementia may be under-diagnosed. In fact, many individuals suffer from both forms dementia, displaying symptoms of both vascular dementia and Alzheimers. Its said that suffering from Alzheimers and having strokes is actually more common than having either of these conditions on their own.

    So, How Do These Two Causes of Dementia Differ?

    Preventative Measures Also Differ

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    Treatments For Vascular Dementia

    There’s currently no cure for vascular dementia and there’s no way to reverse any loss of brain cells that happened before the condition was diagnosed.

    But treatment can sometimes help slow down vascular dementia.

    Treatment aims to tackle the underlying cause, which may reduce the speed at which brain cells are lost.

    This will often involve:

    Other treatments, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, dementia activities and psychological therapies, can help reduce the impact of any existing problems.

    Myths About Dementia And Alzheimers Disease

    The right treatment and support are critical to the well-being of anyone diagnosed with any form of dementia, so its important to know fact from fiction when it comes to these common myths.

    Myth: Dementia is a normal part of aging.

    Fact: Dementia is a disease of the brainnot a normal part of aging. Forgetting where you put your keys is a common problem for a lot of people as they age. But signs of dementia are more than just moments of forgetfulness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . With dementia, a person may be unable to complete ordinary tasks at home or at work, get lost in familiar places and forget the function of common items. When these symptoms appear, its time to see a doctor.

    Myth: You cant reduce your risk of getting Alzheimers disease or other kinds of dementiayou either get it or you dont.

    Fact: Adopting healthy habits can lower your risk of developing dementia, or at least delay the onset. Healthy body, healthy mind, says Dr. Caselli. What we can control, we should control. Though he adds that even a lifetime of healthy habits is no guarantee of protection.

    Myth: Since there is no cure, theres no point in getting a diagnosis.

    Myth: A diagnosis of Alzheimers or another form of dementia means life as you know it will soon end.

    Myth: Coping with a family member with Alzheimers is overwhelmingly difficult.

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    Induction Of Focal Ischemia

    The induction of transient and permanent focal ischemia in animal models has been the most frequently used method to study mechanisms of IS. Most human ISs are caused by the occlusion of a middle cerebral artery , so animal models were developed to induce ischemia in this arterial territory . In the induction of transient focal ischemia, blood vessels in the brain are blocked for up to 3 hours, followed by prolonged reperfusion. In permanent focal ischemia, arterial blockage continues, usually for one or more days. In both types of induced ischemia, blockage is achieved via mechanical, thermal, embolic, or chemical methods . In mechanical ischemia, proximal occlusion is achieved through the intraluminal suture technique. This technique is the most frequently used method to occlude cerebral arteries in rat models of stroke since it was relatively easy to execute and it was noninvasive . This method involves a poly-L-lysinecoated intraluminal suture that, yields reliably large infarcts and greatly reduced inter-animal changeability in rats . Another research group aimed compare the effectiveness and reproducibility of MCA filament occlusion model in rats and mice, demonstrated that the microsurgical filament occlusion of the MCA can be more successfully performed in mice .

    Findings from these studies are useful and improved basic understanding of focal ischemia. Further research is needed to identify precise causal factors of focal ischemia.

    What Is The Difference Between Dementia And Alzheimers Disease

    Is There Really a Difference Among Types of Dementia?

    Dementia is caused by different diseases that affect the brain. Alzheimers disease is the most common of these diseases. Some other common types of dementia include vascular dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies.

    This means that dementia is not a disease in its own right. Dementia is the name for a group of symptoms that commonly include problems with memory, thinking, problem solving, language and perception.

    While there is a relationship between dementia and Alzheimers disease, there are key differences between the two.

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    Postmortem Brain Studies In Stroke

    Postmortem human brain tissue was being used for quantifying cellular and molecular markers of neural courses with the area of improved understanding the variations in the brain caused by neurological diseases . The accurate molecular mechanisms complex in ischemia tempted brain injury endure poorly unstated. The pathophysiology of stroke injury was highly complex, involving interactions among multiple cell types and signal systems . IS, still missing an active neuroprotective therapy, lasts to be a major socioeconomic problem through the world. The contribution of peripheral organs through bidirectional communications with the brain following an ischemic stroke has been highlighted .

    Inflammation is a hallmark of stroke pathology and these inflammatory biomarkers control tissue injury in experimental stroke and were therefore potential targets in future stroke therapy. Tumor necrosis factor , the only cytokine that has been considered by immunohistochemical methods in post-mortem human stroke tissue . Previous research findings supported the hypothesis that tumor necrosis factor-alpha might be involved both in the acute proliferation of inflammatory developments and cell demise and perhaps in the more late reconstruct processes of human IS .

    These postmortem brain studies have improved our understanding of stroke and its molecular links to vascular dementia. Further research is still needed to understand causes of stroke, leading to vascular dementia.

    Dementia Terms You May Hear

    • Alzheimers disease: the most common type of dementia, caused by clumps of proteins building up in the brain.
    • Mild cognitive impairment: this can happen after a stroke. This is when someone has memory and thinking problems but they are not severe enough to interfere with their day-to-day activities.
    • Other types of dementia: you may hear about dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia and young-onset dementia, as well as other rarer types.
    • Small vessel disease: damage to the blood vessels deep inside the brain, often caused by high blood pressure.
    • Vascular cognitive impairment: this describes all memory and thinking problems associated with stroke. It includes vascular dementia and mild cognitive impairment.
    • Vascular dementia: problems with memory and thinking due to reduced blood flow in your brain.

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