Also referred to as multi-infarct dementia, vascular dementia is a common form of dementia which typically affects older people. Due to its lower profile, the condition is usually a rare suspect when memory loss strikes. Its diagnosis is also difficult; hence, anyone would be hard-pressed to determine the number of people suffering from it, worldwide.
Vascular Dementia Explained
Unlike Alzheimer’s disease, which results from the breakdown of the brain’s neurons, vascular dementia occurs from insufficient supply of blood to the brain, as a result of damage to the blood vessels which transport the blood to the organ (the brain). When the brain fails to receive enough blood supply, it loses its ability to function normally, leading to loss of memory, balance, and proper thinking.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of vascular dementia vary depending on the affected part of the brain and the extent of the damage to the brain. Just like Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia may manifest in mild symptoms for an extended period, before severe symptoms can appear. Patients may experience:
- Short-term memory problems
- Difficulty managing finances
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Inappropriate laughing or crying
- Trouble concentrating
Who Is at Risk?
There are dozens of risk factors for dementia, with hypertension being the most common one. As a matter of fact, vascular dementia rarely occurs without high blood pressure. Other conditions such as strokes, heart disease, and diabetes also tend to cause vascular dementia. If you’re smoking or consuming alcohol in excessive amounts, you’re also at risk of developing vascular dementia. Vascular dementia is more common among ages 60 to 75, and it affects men more than women. Also, African-Americans are at a higher risk than other races.
The health status of a vascular dementia patient will definitely not be good if the condition goes unaddressed. The patient may seemingly improve for a certain period, only for their health to worsen later; it is a progressive problem with no known cure. Untreated dementia will usually result in death.
Despite being a serious disorder, vascular dementia can be prevented from causing further damage to the patient if it is detected early. Late diagnosis and treatment usually fail to be effective, leading to health deterioration and eventual death.