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Vascular dementia

Steve Smith discusses Vascular dementia
© University of East Anglia

In vascular dementia, blood supply to the brain is disrupted due to multiple events in blood vessels similar to those described above regarding stroke, above, occur over time.

The presentation is different to that seen in other dementias, for example, in Alzheimer’s disease, in that instead of a gradual persistent declining cognition, deterioration occurs in ‘steps’: each time there is another small event, there is further decline, specifically in relation to the function of the area of brain damaged.

Some clinicians prefer the term ‘Mild Cognitive Impairment’ (MCI) to ‘vascular dementia’ feeling this describes the condition more accurately. Cognition refers to abilities dependent on brain function such as remembering, thinking and planning for example.

Impairment can range from mild to severe over time. Risk factors are those associated with any deterioration of blood vessels generally, for example, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart conditions. It is important to encourage reduction or elimination of risk factors as far as possible, to not only slow progression of vascular dementia but to avoid other events such as a major stroke, or a heart attack.

© University of East Anglia
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