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.
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.
What Is The Life Expectancy Of Someone With Vascular Dementia
The average vascular dementia life expectancy after diagnosis is about five years. Some research suggests it may be shorter, at three years, in people who have the disease due to stroke. Its common for people with vascular dementia to die from a stroke or another event related to the underlying causes, such as a heart attack.
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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.
What Is The Difference Between Vascular Dementia And Alzheimers
There are several different forms of dementia, but while Alzheimers is the most common form of dementia in the elderly, vascular dementia comes in a close second.Like most forms of dementia, both are very serious brain conditions that cause serious cognitive decline, but what is the difference between vascular dementia and Alzheimers disease?
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Treatment For Vascular Dementia
1. Lifestyle modifications to lower the risk factors.There is substantial proof that successful treatment of the risk factors for dementia may postpone or even prevent additional decline. Improving diet, taking routine exercise, avoiding weight problems and cutting out tobacco can all play a part in an effective therapy programme.
2. Drug treatment to deal with any underlying conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, stroke, heart problems or high cholesterol.These may consist of anticoagulants such as warfarin, antiplatelet representatives such as aspirin, medications to decrease viscosity , and even possible surgical treatment for extreme cases.
3. Rehabilitation support.Multi-agency support can help people to regain lost function and hold off further decline.
At the time of writing this post, no drug treatments are approved to treat Vascular Dementia directly in either the UK or United States. There is some clinical trial evidence that certain medicines authorized for Alzheimers disease might provide a modest benefits for the therapy of mixed dementia, and in certain cases these could be prescribed, specifically when Alzheimers is the primary condition.
Causes Of Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia is caused by reduced blood supply to the brain due to diseased blood vessels.
To be healthy and function properly, brain cells need a constant supply of blood to bring oxygen and nutrients. Blood is delivered to the brain through a network of vessels called the vascular system. If the vascular system within the brain becomes damaged – so that the blood vessels leak or become blocked – then blood cannot reach the brain cells and they will eventually die.
This death of brain cells can cause problems with memory, thinking or reasoning. Together these three elements are known as cognition. When these cognitive problems are bad enough to have a significant impact on daily life, this is known as vascular dementia.
Dementia and the brain
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Risk Factors For Dementia
Two of the most common risk factors for Alzheimers and dementia are age and genetics. Most individuals with Alzheimers are 65 or older, and those who have a parent or sibling with Alzheimers are more likely to develop the disease. However, there is evidence to suggest that there are other factors that people can influence.
According to research from the University of Cambridge, one-third of Alzheimers disease cases were attributed to preventable risk factors. The seven main risk factors for Alzheimers disease are diabetes, hypertension, obesity, physical inactivity, depression, smoking and low educational attainment.
Minimizing the risk of these factors can potentially minimize the onset of dementia, but to an unknown degree, Ory said. We know that physical activity, a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle can help reduce the symptomology of many major diseases, and similarly these can affect the onset and progression of dementia symptomatology.
If youre looking for a start to reducing the risk for dementia or Alzheimers, a healthy diet and getting enough exercise is a good start. Exercise has been shown to increase blood flow and help connections between neurons, which is important with cognitive functioning.
What Are The Risk Factors Of Alzheimers Disease And Vascular Dementia
There is a known genetic risk factor with cases of Alzheimers disease and if you have a family history of Alzheimers, you have a higher risk of developing the disease in later life. The disease is also more prevalent in women and tends to affect the over 65 age group.
Older people, diabetics, people with high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure, smokers, and anyone with a history of strokes are all at risk of vascular dementia and should take steps to improve their health accordingly.
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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.
Frontotemporal Dementia With Parkinsonism
One form of familial FTD, also known as frontotemporal dementia with Parkinsonism-17 , is caused by genetic changes in the gene for tau protein, located on chromosome 17. No other risk factors for this condition are known.
FTDP-17 is rare and accounts for only three per cent of all cases of dementia. Symptoms progressively get worse over time and usually appear between the ages of 40 and 60. The condition affects both thinking and behavioural skills and movements such as rigidity, lack of facial expression and problems with balance .
It can be distressing to be told that you have a genetic disorder or are at risk of having one. Genetic counselling provides the person and their family with information about a genetic disorder and its likely impact on their lives. This can assist a person with FTDP-17 to make informed medical and personal decisions about how to manage their condition and the challenges it presents to their health and wellbeing. Prenatal genetic counselling is also available for parents to help them decide about a pregnancy that may be at risk of FTDP-17.
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Is There Treatment Available
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.
Whats The Difference Between Dementia And Alzheimer’s Disease
Dr. Larry Lawhorne discusses the difference between dementia and Alzheimers disease. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.
A very common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, accounting for 40 to 60 percent of all cases of dementia. But there many causes of dementia, such as vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, normal pressure hydrocephalus and frontotemporal dementia. The most common after Alzheimer’s disease is vascular dementia. Vascular dementia occurs in a setting of high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and other cardiovascular diseases. While Alzheimer’s patients lose function slowly, people with vascular dementia lose their ability to remember and think in a step-wise progression.
Making a diagnosis can be complicated because now we think there is mixed dementia. Someone may be on his way to developing Alzheimer’s disease but may also have enough vascular risk factors to have vascular dementia, too. Lewy body dementia is an interesting and distinctive disorder. People with Lewy body dementia often first experience visual hallucinations. They may also have some movement disorder. They may have a little bit of tremor. They may have problems walking. People with Lewy body dementia are also very sensitive to antipsychotic medicines, which tend to make them much more unsteady.
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Dementia With Lewy Bodies
Dementia with Lewy Bodies is caused by clumps of protein forming inside brain cells. Lewy Bodies are also found in people with Parkinsons disease. Why Lewy bodies develop is not understood nor is their impact on the brain. It is thought that it interferes with the messaging between brain cells.Symptoms of DLB included problems with understanding, thinking memory and judgement, which are similar to Alzheimers disease, although the memory may be less affected. There may be periods of fluctuating alertness and drowsiness, which can change over hours or days. Movement may be slow and stiff with tremors, there can be fainting spells and falls. Sleep can be disturbed by violent movements and shouting.
Like vascular dementia, there is currently no cure for DLB but there are treatments that can control some of the symptoms. Treatments include medication, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, dementia activities and psychological therapies.
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.
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Quality Home Care For Dementia Patients In Phoenix Az
Do you have a family member or loved one suffering from dementia? Call and talk to one of our staff at Devoted Guardians. We are one of Arizonas largest home care providers with personnel trained in dementia care. We offer daily 24-hour living assistance, including nighttime watch, and personal care.
Devoted Guardians’ Response to COVID-19
Devoted Guardians is actively monitoring the progression of the coronavirus, COVID-19, to ensure that we have the most accurate and latest information on the threat of the virus. As you know, this situation continues to develop rapidly as new cases are identified in our communities and our protocols will be adjusted as needed.
While most cases of COVID-19 are mild, causing only fever and cough, a very small percentage of cases become severe and may progress particularly in the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions. Because this is the primary population that Devoted Guardians serves, we understand your concerns and want to share with you how our organization is responding to the threat of COVID-19.
We are following updates and procedures from the Centers for Disease Control State Department of Health, local and county authorities, the Home Care Association of America and other agencies and resources. Our response and plans may adjust according to the recommendations from these organizations.
What Causes Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia is an umbrella term for a group of conditions caused by problems with blood circulation to the brain. It is caused by small blood clots preventing oxygen reaching the brain tissue. The small clots are sometimes known as Transient Ischaemic Attacks or TIAs. Damage to the blood supply can also be caused by blocked arteries or bursting of blood vessels in the brain .
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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:
- taking medicines, such as those used to treat high blood pressure, lower cholesterol or prevent blood clots
What Is The Difference Between Alzheimers And Vascular Dementia Treatments
There is no cure for Alzheimers disease or vascular dementia, but there are treatments available that can slow down the relentless progress of both types of dementia and help the patient to maintain a good quality of life for as long as possible. However, some treatments that are useful for patients with Alzheimers disease can cause side effects in those with vascular dementia, which suggests that the underlying brain chemistry of both forms of dementia is different.
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The Effects Of Alzheimers On The Brain
Damage to the brain begins years before symptoms appear. Abnormal protein deposits form plaques and tangles in the brain of someone with Alzheimers disease. Connections between cells are lost, and they begin to die. In advanced cases, the brain shows significant shrinkage.
Its impossible to diagnose Alzheimers with complete accuracy while a person is alive. The diagnosis can only be confirmed when the brain is examined under a microscope during an autopsy. However, specialists are able to make the correct diagnosis up to
- behavioral changes
- difficulty speaking, swallowing, or walking in advanced stages of the disease
Some types of dementia will share some of these symptoms, but they include or exclude other symptoms that can help make a differential diagnosis. Lewy body dementia , for example, has many of the same later symptoms as Alzheimers. However, people with LBD but are more likely to experience initial symptoms such as visual hallucinations, difficulties with balance, and sleep disturbances.
People with dementia due to Parkinsons or Huntingtons disease are more likely to experience involuntary movement in the early stages of the disease.
Treatment for dementia will depend on the exact cause and type of dementia, but many treatments for dementia and Alzheimers will overlap.
Difference Between Alzheimers & Vascular Dementia
Alzheimers disease happens when neurons in the brain begin to die due to clumps of sticky proteins. Vascular dementia, on the other hand, is from impaired blood flow. The diseases also attack different parts of the brain. Alzheimers affects the grey matter while vascular dementia affects the white matter. Vascular dementia is more likely to affect movement in the earlier stages than Alzheimers.
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What Is The Difference Between Vascular Dementia And Alzheimers Symptoms
Overall, vascular dementia and Alzheimers symptoms are largely very similar, but symptoms of vascular dementia tend to be more behavioural and psychological in nature. In the early stages of vascular dementia, the first signs are confusion and agitated behaviour in conjunction with memory problems whereas the main symptom of early Alzheimers is memory problems and confusion.
The Distinction Of Delirium
Delirium is a neuropsychiatric condition that occurs acutely, rather than chronically, sometimes for only hours at a time. Whereas dementia is almost always irreversible, and features a steady cognitive decline as the condition progresses, delirium is not a chronic impairment, and its acute manifestations can be effectively controlled.
Delirium is also unique for its severe disorganized thought. This usually leads to a period of inattention or distraction, making the individual unable to focus on tasks. While dementia also features a poor level of focus and concentration, the difference is that delirium’s lack of focus stems from rapidly processed thoughts, rather than the stifled ability to conduct thought.
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