Cause and Prevention of This Type of Dementia
Vascular dementia (VsD) is the second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer's Dementia. It is one of the few types of dementia that is actually preventable.
In some Asian countries, it is the leading cause of dementia.
This disease is more common in men than in women and the risk increases with age. Mortality rate is higher than for those patients with Alzheimer's, probably due to the co-existence of system vascular changes that affect other organs.
Causes of Vascular Dementia
The basic cause is an interruption of blood flow to the brain. That blood flow can be interrupted by a variety of causes, the most common being a mini stroke or a single large stroke. Small vessel disease is also a common cause.
Arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, decreases oxygenation to all end organs, including the brain. This impaired delivery of oxygen kills brain cells, leading to damage with symptoms of VsD.
It is estimated that up to 50% of all cases of VsD result from hypertension.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can also lead to this type of dementia. Hypertension itself has few symptoms. The symptoms one sees as a result of hypertension come from damage to organs, including the brain.
High blood pressure is treatable and preventable and all effort should be made to keep blood pressure within normal ranges, including diet, exercise, weight loss and pharmaceutical treatments.
Other, less common causes included inflammatory changes in the arteries from lupus and temporal arteritis, both of which are also treatable conditions.
Symptoms of Vascular Dementia
The symptoms VsD may occur gradually and slowly, especially if the cause is hypertension or mini strokes. Other times, in the case of a large stroke, symptoms may occur suddenly and be very dramatic.
Symptoms also include evidence of the damage to the area of the brain, similar to other dementias, as well as damage to other organs in the body at the same time. Some of the most common symptoms associated with this disease are:
- Mental Changes: This includes loss of memory, slowed thinking, impaired judgment and
short term memory loss
- Physical Changes: Dizziness, weakness, tingling the arms and legs and balance problems are all common
- Behavioral Changes: Laughing or crying inappropriately, aggression, difficulty finding the right words and loss of social skills are often seen.
The key to prevention is controlling the underlying disease process that puts a person at risk.
High blood pressure needs to be controlled through diet, exercise, weight loss and if needed, medication.
Mini strokes need to be prevented if at all possible through the use of both pharmaceutical and non drug treatment modalities.
The inflammatory response of lupus and arteritis can be controlled with the use of steroids or other anti inflammatory medications.
Other life style changes can be made that can help prevent VD including:
- Stop Smoking
- Drink only in moderation
- Know your cholesterol and treat if necessary
- Control high blood pressure
- If you are diabetic, keep your blood sugars under control
- If you are overweight, work at lowering your body fat
Because vascular dementia is one of the types of dementia that is preventable, all effort should be made at preventing this disease before any symptoms appear.
If you know you are at risk, talk to your doctor about prevention and develop a good, well balanced treatment plan that works at eliminating any risk factor you can control.
Along with any plan you and your doctor develop, consider taking some of the best
vitamins for memory
. Most of these help protect the brain cells from damage and may help prevent complications from vascular dementia.
The biggest key factor in preventing this dementia is becoming aware early if you are at risk, and doing what you can to decrease your chances of developing vascular dementia.
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