Posted on January 27, 2010 by DementiaGuide
Vascular dementia (also commonly referred to as: Multi-infarct dementia (MID)), is the second most common type of dementia, accounting for 20 - 30 percent of all cases (Alzheimer's Disease International, 2009 World Report). Vascular dementia, which is slightly more common in men than women, most typically occurs between the ages of 60 and 75.
Vascular dementia results from the damage to the brain that is caused by low blood supply and deprivation of oxygen. This can occur following a major stroke, which is sometimes referred to as Post-stroke dementia, or following a series of mini-strokes, also called transient ischemic attacks (TIAs). When Vascular dementia occurs at the same time aas Alzheimer's disease, it is termed "mixed dementia". Another related term is Binswanger's disease - a rare form of Vascular dementia that is caused by damage to the blood vessels deep in the brains white matter.
In contrast to the steady decline in abilities and the predictability that is generally associated with Alzheimer's disease, symptoms of Vascular dementia often occur suddenly and subsequent changes are distinctly noticeable; generally worsening, staying the same, and then worsening again, almost in steps. The symptoms of Vascular dementia will vary, depending on the part of the brain that is affected, but may include: memory impairment, confusion, difficulty walking, and incontinence.
There are no treatments that are specific to Vascular dementia. Following a stroke, medication to improve blood flow may be prescribed and scans of the brain may be taken to see any narrowing of blood vessels. Physical therapy or speech therapy may also be helpful in renewing some of the abilities that were lost. It is believed that lowering the risk of stroke can in turn lower the risk of developing Vascular dementia. Regular monitoring of blood pressure, weight, blood sugar levels and cholesterol are all recommended, as they appear to help symptoms from getting worse. While diabetes and heart disease can be precursors to strokes, there are medications that are designed to help keep these diseases under control, thus minimizing the chance of stroke occuring.