(Binswanger’s Disease; Senile Dementia; Binswanger’s Type; Vascular Cognitive Impairment; Arteriosclerotic Dementia; Atherosclerotic Disease)
Vascular dementia is a problem with thinking that happens when parts of the brain do not get enough oxygen and nutrients.
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Vascular dementia is caused by a narrowing or blocking of vessels that carry blood to the brain. This causes brain cells to die because they do not get enough oxygen.
Vascular dementia is more common in older adults. It is also more common in people who have one or more of these risk factors:
Symptoms depend on the part of the brain that is affected.
A person may have:
- Changes in memory, thinking, or behavior that may get in the way of daily activities
- Problems controlling urine
- Problems walking
- Mood changes
The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may also be done to assess thinking abilities.
Blood tests may be done to check for other health problems that may cause dementia.
Pictures may be taken of the brain. This can be done with an:
There is no cure for vascular dementia. The goal is to slow the disease and improve quality of life. Any underlying health problems that narrow or block blood vessels will also need to be treated.
Medicine may be given to improve thinking and function. Dietary supplements may also be used.
To lower the risk of vascular dementia:
- Avoid using tobacco.
- Limit alcohol.
- Manage chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
- Maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise.
- Sabayan B, Sorond FA. Reducing risk of dementia in older age. JAMA. 2017;317(19):2028.
- Sorond FA, Whitehead S, et al. Proceedings from the Albert Charitable Trust Inaugural Workshop on white matter and cognition in aging. Geroscience. 2020;42(1):81-96.
- Vascular cognitive impairment. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/vascular-cognitive-impairment.
- Vascular dementia. Alzheimer's Association website. Available at: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-dementia/types-of-dementia/vascular-dementia.
- Vascular dementia: A resource list. National Institute on Aging website. Available at: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/vascular-dementia.
- Mark S. Itzkowitz, MD, JD
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