There are several different forms of dementia, but while Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia in the elderly, vascular dementia comes in a close second.
Like most forms of dementia, both are very serious brain conditions that cause serious cognitive decline, but what is the difference between vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?
Causes of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia
We do not really know what causes Alzheimer’s disease, although research has indicated that some people have a genetic predisposition and are therefore more likely to develop the disease. There are also thought to be certain lifestyle and environmental factors at play.
We do know the causes of vascular dementia, however. This type of dementia is caused by a complete blockage of the arteries that supply oxygenated blood to the brain because of a stroke, or damage caused over a period of time because of a gradual narrowing of the arteries to the brain as a consequence of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and atherosclerosis. In some cases, vascular dementia is as a result of both scenarios.
What are the risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia?
There is a known genetic risk factor with cases of Alzheimer’s disease and if you have a family history of Alzheimer’s, you have a higher risk of developing the disease in later life. The disease is also more prevalent in women and tends to affect the over 65 age group.
Older people, diabetics, people with high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure, smokers, and anyone with a history of strokes are all at risk of vascular dementia and should take steps to improve their health accordingly.
What is the difference between vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s symptoms?
Overall, vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s symptoms are largely very similar, but symptoms of vascular dementia tend to be more behavioural and psychological in nature. In the early stages of vascular dementia, the first signs are confusion and agitated behaviour in conjunction with memory problems whereas the main symptom of early Alzheimer’s is memory problems and confusion.
What is the difference between vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s prevention?
With Alzheimer’s disease, if you are genetically predisposed towards developing the disease, it is a good idea to try and lead as healthy a lifestyle as possible, which includes keeping your blood pressure low and watching your blood cholesterol levels. This might not stop you developing Alzheimer’s, but it will reduce your level of risk. The same prevention techniques also apply to vascular dementia as a healthy lifestyle will significantly reduce the risk factors associated with the disease.
What is the difference between Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia treatments?
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia, but there are treatments available that can slow down the relentless progress of both types of dementia and help the patient to maintain a good quality of life for as long as possible. However, some treatments that are useful for patients with Alzheimer’s disease can cause side effects in those with vascular dementia, which suggests that the underlying brain chemistry of both forms of dementia is different.