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Preventing Vascular Dementia - DementiaGuide.com

Posted on June 23, 2008 by DementiaGuide

Preventing Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer's and is a major health concern in those over the age of sixty. The cause of vascular dementia is a loss of oxygen and nutrients to the brain due to blockages or narrowing of the vascular blood vessels leading to the brain, particularly to the cortex.

The impact of vascular dementia can be relatively mild or quite dramatic depending on how long the cortex is deprived of oxygen and how often this occurs. There are two common types of vascular dementia; the most common is called Multi-Infarct Dementia (MID) and is caused by multiple mini-strokes leading to damage of the cortex of the brain. These mini strokes, sometimes called Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs) may even go unnoticed at times, but the cumulative damage can be permanent even though the progress is gradual.

The risk of developing vascular dementia falls along predictable lines. It is more prevalent in men than women and usually occurs after the age of 60. Any heart or vascular related diseases increase the risk of developing vascular dementia, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arterial disease, and diabetes. Those who are overweight or who smoke are also more inclined to develop this form of dementia.

The Good News

Fortunately, vascular dementia can be prevented. If individuals follow a healthy lifestyle to lower their risk of stroke, they can decrease the chance of vascular dementia significantly. The same applies to watching one's blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight - by controlling each of these factors, you can greatly reducing your risk of developing vascular dementia.

Seeing your doctor regularly for physicals, following his or heradvice regarding heart health, andmaintaining a well balanced diet and a regularexercise routine will all reduce your risk of TIAs or stroke. If you have diabetes or are overweight, getting your blood sugar and weight under control are also crucial to keeping vascular dementia at bay.

In more severe cases, such as hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis), blood thinners or surgery may be in order to ensure proper blood flow to the brain. It is critical to catch any conditions affecting blood flow early and treat them properly, so don't be complacent - get yearly physicals and follow your doctor's instructions for a healthy future with a low risk of vascular dementia as you age.

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