Vascular Contributions To Alzheimers Disease
People with dementia seldom have only Alzheimers-related changes in their brains. Any number of vascular issuesproblems that affect blood vessels, such as beta-amyloid deposits in brain arteries, atherosclerosis , and mini-strokesmay also be at play.
Vascular problems may lead to reduced blood flow and oxygen to the brain, as well as a breakdown of the blood-brain barrier, which usually protects the brain from harmful agents while allowing in glucose and other necessary factors. In a person with Alzheimers, a faulty blood-brain barrier prevents glucose from reaching the brain and prevents the clearing away of toxic beta-amyloid and tau proteins. This results in inflammation, which adds to vascular problems in the brain. Because it appears that Alzheimers is both a cause and consequence of vascular problems in the brain, researchers are seeking interventions to disrupt this complicated and destructive cycle.
Can You Change The Volume Of Gray Matter In Your Brain
Several interesting studies have been conducted on the amount of gray matter in your brain. One showed a correlation between speaking more than one language and a higher amount of gray matter in the brain. This seems to reinforce previous research findings that demonstrate a protective benefit against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s in people who are multi-lingual.
A second study concluded that higher levels of physical activity and cardiovascular fitness levels were correlated with increases in the volume of gray matter in the brain.
A third study noted an increase in the density of gray matter in people who participated once a week in eight sessions of mindfulness meditation trainings. While the number of participants was small at 17, the resulting increase in gray matter thickness was significant.
Dementia And The Brain
Knowing more about the brain and how it can change can help to understand the symptoms of dementia. It can help a person with dementia to live well, or to support a person with dementia to live well.
These pages explain which areas of the brain are responsible for certain skills and abilities, and how these are affected by dementia. We explain how changes to the brain relate to changes a person may notice as the condition progresses.
This information is helpful for anyone who wants to find out more about how the brain is affected by dementia.
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Less Common Forms Of Dementia
Picks Disease affects personality, orientation and behavior. It may be more common in women and occurs at an early age.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease progresses rapidly along with mental deterioration and involuntary movements.
Huntingtons Disease is an inherited, degenerative disease. The disease causes involuntary movement and usually begins during mid-life.
Parkinsons Disease Dementia can develop in the later stages of Parkinsons disease, a progressive disorder of the central nervous system.
Lewy Body Dementia causes symptoms similar to Alzheimers disease. People with Lewy Body dementia experience hallucinations and can become fearful.
Mild cognitive impairment
Mild cognitive impairment is a stage between normal aging and dementia and involves problems with memory, language, or other cognitive functions. But unlike those with full-blown dementia, people with MCI are still able to function in their daily lives without relying on others.
Many people with MCI eventually develop Alzheimers disease or another type of dementia. However, others plateau at a relatively mild stage of decline and are able to live independently. Some people with mild cognitive impairment even return to normal.
Symptoms of MCI include:
- Frequently losing or misplacing things.
- Frequently forgetting conversations, appointments, or events.
- Difficulty remembering the names of new acquaintances.
- Difficulty following the flow of a conversation.
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.
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What Are The Most Common Types Of Dementia
- Alzheimers disease. This is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases. It is caused by specific changes in the brain. The trademark symptom is trouble remembering recent events, such as a conversation that occurred minutes or hours ago, while difficulty remembering more distant memories occurs later in the disease. Other concerns like difficulty with walking or talking or personality changes also come later. Family history is the most important risk factor. Having a first-degree relative with Alzheimers disease increases the risk of developing it by 10 to 30 percent.
- Vascular dementia. About 10 percent of dementia cases are linked to strokes or other issues with blood flow to the brain. Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are also risk factors. Symptoms vary depending on the area and size of the brain impacted. The disease progresses in a step-wise fashion, meaning symptoms will suddenly get worse as the individual gets more strokes or mini-strokes.
- Lewy body dementia. In addition to more typical symptoms like memory loss, people with this form of dementia may have movement or balance problems like stiffness or trembling. Many people also experience changes in alertness including daytime sleepiness, confusion or staring spells. They may also have trouble sleeping at night or may experience visual hallucinations .
Stage : Mild Cognitive Impairment
Clear cognitive problems begin to manifest in stage 3. A few signs of stage 3 dementia include:
- Getting lost easily
- Noticeably poor performance at work
- Forgetting the names of family members and close friends
- Difficulty retaining information read in a book or passage
- Losing or misplacing important objects
- Difficulty concentrating
Patients often start to experience mild to moderate anxiety as these symptoms increasingly interfere with day to day life. Patients who may be in this stage of dementia are encouraged to have a clinical interview with a clinician for proper diagnosis.
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What Are The Types Of Dementia
The most common types of dementia are known as neurodegenerative disorders. These are diseases in which the cells of the brain stop working or die. They include:
- Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia among older people. People with Alzheimer’s have plaques and tangles in their brain. These are abnormal buildups of different proteins. Beta-amyloid protein clumps up and forms plaques in between your brain cells. Tau protein builds up and forms tangles inside the nerve cells of your brain. There is also a loss of connection between nerve cells in the brain.
- Lewy body dementia, which causes movement symptoms along with dementia. Lewy bodies are abnormal deposits of a protein in the brain.
- Frontotemporal disorders, which cause changes to certain parts of the brain:
- Changes in the frontal lobe lead to behavioral symptoms
- Changes in the temporal lobe lead to language and emotional disorders
Other conditions can cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms, including:
- Having close family members who have dementia
How To Spot Early Indicators That Your Loved One May Have Alzheimers Or Dementia
by Patrick J. Kiger, AARP, Updated September 27, 2021
En español | From age 50 on, its not unusual to have occasional trouble finding the right word or remembering where you put things.
But persistent difficulty with memory, cognition and ability to perform everyday tasks might be signs that something more serious is happening to a loved ones brain.
Dementia isnt actually a disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. Its a catch-all term for changes in the brain that cause a loss of functioning that interferes with daily life. Dementia can diminish focus, the ability to pay attention, language skills, problem-solving and visual perception. It also can make it difficult for a person to control his or her emotions and lead to personality changes.
More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s dementia, according to the “2021 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures” report fromthe Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia, accounting for 60 percent to 70 percent of cases, but a range of brain illnesses can lead to the condition .
Diseases that cause dementia
These conditions are the leading causes of dementia. Many patients have mixed dementia, a combination of two or more types, such as Alzheimers and vascular dementia.
Lewy body dementia. Abnormal protein deposits in the brain, called Lewy bodies, affect brain chemistry and lead to problems with behavior, mood, movement and thinking.
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Are There Medicines To Treat Dementia
There is no cure for dementia yet, but there are medicines that can help treat some of the symptoms of dementia. There are medications that may improve memory for a period of time. There are also medications that are effective for treating mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, which commonly occur in people with dementia. It is also important that your provider carefully evaluates any medicine someone with dementia is taking, because some medications may make memory symptoms worse.
The Importance Of The New Treatment For Alzheimers
The journal Nature recently published an article entitled Alzheimers disease: Attack on amyloid- protein. The main author of this article, Eric M. Reiman, goes into detail about the discovery of new advances in the treatment of Alzheimers, concretely, the amyloid-beta protein.
Reiman and his collaborators looked into a new drug that avoids the destruction of the neurons and accumulations of plaque from the amyloid protein, which, as we explained above, is considered one of the primary causes of the cognitive deterioration associated with Alzheimers.
Félix Viñuela, a neurologist and researcher at the Hospital Virgen Macarena in Seville, Spain, says that this drug travels to the brain, attaches itself to the deposit of that toxic substance, and starts removing it from there. Furthermore, we have proven that the higher the dosage of this new drug we administer, the greater the recovery we see in our patients.
However, the researchers themselves emphasize that, right now, this is a study that is being conducted at 300 hospitals in North America, Europe, and Asia, particularly with patients suffering from Mild Cognitive Impairment and that although this is a very hopeful advance, there is still a long way to go before it can be put into practice and before they can prove its long-term effects.
02 February, 2017
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Stage : Mild Dementia
At this stage, individuals may start to become socially withdrawn and show changes in personality and mood. Denial of symptoms as a defense mechanism is commonly seen in stage 4. Behaviors to look for include:
- Difficulty remembering things about one’s personal history
- Difficulty recognizing faces and people
In stage 4 dementia, individuals have no trouble recognizing familiar faces or traveling to familiar locations. However, patients in this stage will often avoid challenging situations in order to hide symptoms or prevent stress or anxiety.
The Dementia Brain Tour
The brain is incredibly complex and this section of our site contains a lot of information about how the brain is thought to function. For more about how the brain works and the effects of dementia, see our set of videos below.
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Where To Get Help
- Your local community health centre
- National Dementia Helpline Dementia Australia Tel. 1800 100 500
- Aged Care Assessment Services Tel. 1300 135 090
- My Aged Care 1800 200 422
- Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinics Tel. 1300 135 090
- Carers Victoria Tel. 1800 242 636
- Commonwealth Carelink and Respite Centres Australian Government Tel. 1800 052 222
- Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service Tel. 1800 699 799 for 24-hour telephone advice for carers and care workers
How Is Vascular Dementia Treated
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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Causes Of Dementia With Lewy Bodies
Lewy bodies are tiny clumps of a protein called alpha-synuclein that can develop inside brain cells.
These clumps damage the way the cells work and communicate with each other, and the brain cells eventually die.
Dementia with Lewy bodies is closely related to Parkinson’s disease and often has some of the same symptoms, including difficulty with movement and a higher risk of falls.
Read more about dementia with Lewy bodies.
What Is Senile Or Senile Dementia
Senility is regarded as the deterioration of the mind and body, which usually comes with advanced aging.
A majority of senile persons usually experience a mental decline or decrease in cognitive abilities.
This can be characterized by an individuals inability to recall information, concentrate, and judge situations in the proper way.
Sadly, the word senile for the longest time had an undesirable connotation largely due to a lack of understanding of the challenges that come with growing older.
This leads to people using the word in the wrong way.
Meaning, making it sound like a senile person is one who is dazed, confused, or unable to function well, rather than look at it as an authentic health condition.
Nowadays, we do not use the term senile to describe older people anymore.
The term senile has also been used in combination with other phrases.
These include senile dementia, senile plaques, and senile Alzheimers. It has also been added as a descriptor of other medical conditions like senile osteoporosis or senile arthritis.
In such a context, senile usually refers to the age when the condition started developing and has nothing to do with cognitive function or decline.
Several symptoms associate with senility such as:
- Wrinkled skin
A majority of the physical changes are attributed to growing older. On the other hand, we can assign psychological changes to the aging of cortical brain cells.
Senility in most cases applies to mental decline.
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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.
What Are The Symptoms Of Vascular Dementia
The symptoms of vascular dementia depend on the location and amount of brain tissue involved. Vascular dementia symptoms may appear suddenly after a stroke, or gradually over time. Symptoms may get worse after another stroke, a heart attack, or major surgery. These are signs and symptoms of vascular dementia
- Increased trouble carrying out normal daily activities because of problems with concentration, communication, or inability to carry out instructions
- Memory problems, although short-term memory may not be affected
- Confusion, which may increase at night
- Stroke symptoms, such as sudden weakness and trouble with speech
- Personality changes
- Mood changes, such as depression or irritability
- Stride changes when walking too fast, shuffling steps
- Problems with movement and/or balance
- Urinary problems, such as urgency or incontinence
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Mental Ability Tests To Diagnose Dementia
People with symptoms of dementia are given tests to check their mental abilities, such as memory or thinking.
These tests are known as cognitive assessments, and may be done initially by a GP.
There are several different tests. A common one used by GPs is the General Practitioner Assessment of Cognition .
Although these tests cannot diagnose dementia, they may show there are memory difficulties that need further investigation.
Most tests involve a series of pen-and-paper tests and questions, each of which carries a score.
These tests assess a number of different mental abilities, including:
- short- and long-term memory
- language and communication skills
- awareness of time and place
It’s important to remember that test scores may be influenced by a person’s level of education.
For example, someone who cannot read or write very well may have a lower score, but they may not have dementia.
Similarly, someone with a higher level of education may achieve a higher score, but still have dementia.
Dementia Symptoms And Areas Of The Brain
Knowing how different types of dementia affect the brain helps explain why someone with dementia might behave in a certain way.
Dementia and the brain
Until recently, seeing changes in the brain relied on studying the brain after the person had died. But modern brain scans may show areas of reduced activity or loss of brain tissue while the person is alive. Doctors can study these brain scans while also looking at the symptoms that the person is experiencing.
The most common types of dementia each start with shrinkage of brain tissue that may be restricted to certain parts of the brain.
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