(Arteriosclerotic Dementia; Atherosclerotic Disease)En Español (Spanish Version)
Dementia is the progressive loss of memory and various other mental functions, including the ability to learn, reason, and judge. In vascular dementia, impaired blood flow to the brain cause damage that results in dementia. Often, vascular dementia can occur in conjunction with other forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease .
Areas of the Brain Affected by Dementia
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Vascular dementia can be the result of a major stroke (called post-stroke dementia) or a series of very small strokes (previously called multi-infarct dementia). In post-stroke dementia, the symptoms appear soon after the stroke. In multiple-infarct dementia, the symptoms gradually worsen over time.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. The following factors may increase your risk of vascular dementia:
Symptoms of vascular dementia may appear suddenly, or over time. Symptoms may include:
- Memory problems
- Confusion, which may worsen at night
- Difficulty concentrating, planning, or following instructions
- Trouble communicating
- Difficulty carrying out daily activities
- Symptoms of a stroke—These may include sudden weakness, difficulty speaking, and confusion. Call for emergency medical care if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of a stroke.
- Brain abnormalities seen on imaging studies
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Other tests may include:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
There are no medications currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat vascular dementia. But depending on your symptoms, certain medications, such as nimodipine , methylphenidate , and donepezil (eg Aricept), may be beneficial in treating some symptoms of vascular dementia.
There is evidence that engaging in behavioral treatments (eg, increased pleasurable events, problem-solving exercises) may help reduce certain symptoms of vascular dementia.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Canadian Stroke Network
Bowler JV, Hachinski V. Vascular dementia. In: Gilman S, ed. MedLink Neurology. San Diego, CA: MedLink Corporation. Available at: http://www.medlink.com . Accessed August 10, 2007.
Erkinjuntti T. Vascular cognitive deterioration and stroke. Cerebrovasc. Dis . 2007;24 (Supplement 1):189-94.
Multi-infarct dementia. Medline Plus website. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000746.htm .
Vascular dementia. Alzheimer's Association website. Available at: http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_vascular_dementia.asp . Accessed June 25, 2007.
Vascular dementia. DynaMed website. Available at: http://dynamed101.ebscohost.com/Detail.aspx?id=115874 . Accessed June 25, 2007.
Last reviewed April 2008 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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