Vascular Dementia

(Binswanger’s Disease; Senile Dementia; Binswanger’s Type; Vascular Cognitive Impairment; Arteriosclerotic Dementia; Atherosclerotic Disease)

Definition

Vascular dementia is a type of dementia . It is caused by disease of the small blood vessels in the brain. Parts of the brain called white matter along with grey matter are injured by multiple small strokes .
Healthy and Injured Brain Blood Vessels
Blood Flow and Lack of Blood Flow to the Brain
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Vascular dementia occurs when cells below the surface of the brain's cortex die because they do not receive enough oxygen and nutrients. This process is due to hardening and narrowing of the blood vessels within the white matter of the brain. This affects the blood supply.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chances of developing vascular dementia include:
  • Increased age
  • High blood pressure—the most closely associated risk factor
  • Alzheimer’s dementia —can occur along with vascular dementia
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Hardening of blood vessels—atherosclerosis and lipohyalinosis
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Conditions that cause the blood to clot
  • Genetic disorders

Symptoms

In some people, symptoms appear suddenly with neurologic changes like those caused by a stroke. Sometimes, the small strokes that lead to vascular dementia can happen without other symptoms. This makes the condition difficult to detect.In some cases, symptoms may stabilize or even improve. However, in most people, the disease continues to progress.The main symptoms of vascular dementia include:
  • Progressive loss of intellectual abilities, processing speed, and cognitive and motor abilities
  • Progressive memory loss
  • Slow, unsteady walking
Other symptoms that may be present include:
  • Incontinence
  • Personality changes
  • Laughing, crying, or smiling during inappropriate times
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Paralysis or weakness of one or both sides of the body
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Inactivity
  • Depression
  • Tremors, loss of coordination, loss of trunk mobility
  • Seizures
  • Nighttime confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Disorientation

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