Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia and is caused by a slow narrowing of the arteries that supply oxygenated blood to the brain. Over time, the plaque build up leads to a series of mini strokes so small that the patient is probably unaware they are even happening, but they are no less damaging and the end result is brain damage. So what are the symptoms of vascular dementia and how can it be prevented?
The symptoms of vascular dementia may appear very slowly as in many cases the damage caused from a narrowing of the arteries takes a long time to take effect in the brain. But in some people, the symptoms of vascular dementia can occur very suddenly, usually as a result of a major stroke. However, for most people, the symptoms of dementia caused by oxygen deprivation to the brain progresses in stages: symptoms start off mild and have very little effect on everyday life, but end up being profound and severely disabling.
What are the symptoms of vascular dementia?
Many of the signs and symptoms of vascular dementia are similar to other types of dementia, but a few are more specific to dementia occurring as a result of a stroke or series of mini strokes and the signs of vascular dementia often occur in a different order to those seen in other forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. The symptoms of dementia will also vary according to which section of the brain is being affected by oxygen deprivation.
Vascular dementia can affect people differently, but one of the most common early signs of the disease is problems with memory. The patient may begin to experience frequent memory lapses, interspersed by periods of apparent normality, but as time goes on and the damage spreads, symptoms will worsen.
General symptoms of vascular dementia include mental confusion, depression, and as the cognitive decline spreads, an increasing difficulty with normal everyday tasks that require concentration and forward planning. The patient may also become more aggressive and belligerent as their personality and moods change.
Patients with dementia have a tendency to wander off and get lost because they forget where they are and how to find their way home again. Language can also be affected by vascular dementia and the patient might not be able to think of the correct words or struggle to string coherent sentences together. Physical symptoms of vascular dementia can include dizziness, problems with walking, or balance problems.
As cognitive function deteriorates and the damage inside the brain spreads, the effects of the disease will become more severe and the patient will need more intensive care. In the later stages of vascular dementia, hallucinations and delusions are not uncommon and the patient may become doubly incontinent.
Stroke related symptoms and signs of vascular dementia
When vascular dementia is caused by a sudden and severe stroke, the most immediate symptoms will be paralysis down one side of the body, weakness or tremors down one side, along with mental confusion and memory loss.