It’s been a busy week for All About Seniors. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was Wednesday and this month is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Every Friday in the month of June, we are posting information about other types of dementias. This week, we’re discussing Vascular Dementia.
Vascular Dementia is a decline in thinking skills caused by conditions that block or reduce blood flow to the brain, depriving brain cells of vital oxygen and nutrients. Vascular dementia is often referred to by experts as “vascular cognitive impairment (VCI).”
In vascular dementia, changes in thinking skills sometimes occur suddenly following strokes that block major brain blood vessels. Thinking problems may begin to gradually worsen as a result of multiple strokes or other conditions that affect smaller blood vessels.
What are the symptoms?
Vascular dementia symptoms vary and are most obvious when they happen soon after a major stroke.
- Trouble speaking or understanding speak
- Vision loss
These changes may happen at the same time as more familiar physical stroke symptoms, such as a sudden headache, difficulty walking, or numbness or paralysis on one side of the face or body.
How is vascular dementia diagnosed?
It may often go unrecognized, but many experts recommend professional screening with brief tests to assess memory, thinking and reasoning for everyone considered to be at high risk for this disorder.
High risk groups include those who have had a stroke or a transient ischemic attack ,those with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or other risk factors for heart of blood vessel disease.
Core elements for a workup of vascular dementia typically include:
- A thorough medical history, including a family history of dementia
- Evaluation of independent function and daily activities
- Input from a family member or trusted friend
- In-office neurological examination assessing function of nerves and reflexes, movement, coordination, balance and senses
- Laboratory tests including blood test and brain imaging
What are the causes and risks?
Advancing age is a major risk factor for vascular cognitive impairment or dementia.
Additional risk factors include:
- high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar
- unhealthy diet
- unhealthy weight
There is no cure for vascular dementia.