Vascular Dementia Causes, Risk Factors and Symptoms
Posted on November 3, 2009 by DementiaGuide
Vascular dementia's causes, risk factors, and symptoms
Vascular dementia is widely considered the second most common type of dementia in the United States and Europe. It is a degenerative cerebrovascular disease that leads to a progressive decline in memory and cognitive functioning. It occurs when blood flow carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain is interrupted by a blocked or damaged vascular system. Vascular dementia affects more men than women. It also generally occurs in people between the ages of 60-75.
Vascular dementia results when the brain does not receive the blood supply of oxygen and nutrients it needs to thrive. This can occur when blood vessels in the brain burst (cerebral hemorrhage), blocked arteries (embolism), or when the brain tissue dies (stroke). The most common type of vascular dementia, multi-infarct dementia (MID), is caused by a series of small strokes. Also called transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), they may occur over time and cause damage to the brain cortex. But Vascular dementia can also be the result of a single major stroke, referred to as "post-stroke dementia". One-third of those who have had a major stroke develop dementia within six months. Rare causes of vascular disease are associated with autoimmune inflammatory disease such as Lupus.
So what are the risk factors involved for vascular dementia? Individuals who develop vascular dementia have a history of one or more of the following conditions: heart attacks, previous strokes, TIAs', high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or blood vessel damage from autoimmune disorder such as Lupus. High blood pressure can induce extra tension to the blood vessels in the brain, which increases the risk of this dementia type. The risk of vascular dementia increases with the number of TIAs', and those with diabetes are at higher risk because high-glucose levels damage blood vessels that can lead to a stroke and impairment of blood flow to the brain. Individuals with these risk factors should get regular medical examinations to screen and monitor possible development.
Onset of vascular dementia symptoms can be gradual or dramatic. For example, a person with a prolonged period of TIAs' will experience a gradual decline in memory, whereas a major stroke can produce immediate memory loss. The location in the brain where the stroke occurs may account for the seriousness of symptoms. Vascular dementia symptoms progress in a step-wise fashion in which a person's abilities will decline after a stroke, then may stabilize until the next stroke. General symptoms that occur in vascular dementia include the following: wandering at night or getting lost in familiar surroundings, incontinence, rapid and shuffling movements, laughing or crying inappropriately, difficulty speaking, disorientation and confusion.