Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia.
Vascular dementia is often caused by small stokes in the small blood vessels of the brain leading to reduced blood flow to brain tissue. The strokes can be so tiny that no-one notices them happening, but the person may get worse quite suddenly. Cognitive impairment worsen gradually as a result of multiple minor strokes or other conditions that affect smaller blood vessels, leading to cumulative damage.
Hypertension in midlife increases the risk of all-cause dementia. Regular screening of high-risk individuals could help to detect dementia early on enabling appropriate preventive intervention.
Symptoms of vascular dementia can vary widely, depending on the severity of the blood vessel damage and the part of the brain affected. People with vascular dementia will often have difficulty concentrating and communicating. They may have cognitive changes, but memory loss is usually much less prominent than in Alzheimer's disease. Depression is also common in people with this type of dementia.
There is no specific treatment or cure for vascular dementia. Medication for hypertension, diabetes, and hypercholesterolemia is recommended. Behavioural treatments include enhancing and encouraging cognitive and physical activity, social engagement, smoking cessation and healthy diet, including alcohol reduction.