Understanding Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia is caused by brain damage that occurs when the flow of blood to your brain is impaired. The condition can be mild or severe and affects memory, judgement and reasoning. Vascular dementia can occur when an artery in your brain becomes blocked as a result of having a stroke, but having a stroke does not automatically mean you will develop this type of dementia. Other conditions that can cause vascular dementia by impairing the flow of blood to the brain include diabetes, high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. Here's an overview of the symptoms and treatments for vascular dementia:


Symptoms of vascular dementia include confusion, trouble concentrating, difficulty making decisions and memory loss. You may also experience periods of restlessness and depression, and some sufferers become unsteady on their feet. You may notice these changes in yourself, but in some cases it's friends and relatives who notice symptoms first, and sufferers aren't always open to accepting their observations.

Diagnosis And Treatments

To diagnose vascular dementia, your GP will take details of your symptoms, conduct a thorough physical exam and carry out some blood tests to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms, such as thyroid disorders. You will also be referred for diagnostic imaging, such as a CT scan or an MRI, which will allow your doctor to see if there are any structural changes to your brain, such as a blocked artery, and whether there's any evidence of brain damage, such as lesions or areas of tissue shrinkage.

Treatment for vascular dementia focuses on managing symptoms and preventing further decline. Your doctor will provide advice on how to keep your brain active and manage your symptoms with lifestyle changes or medication. Keeping your blood sugar under control if you're diabetic, reducing cholesterol and controlling your blood pressure are a few examples of steps you can take to reduce the risk of vascular dementia getting worse. You may also be referred for cognitive therapy, which aims to stimulate thinking skills and help you to consciously engage your thoughts. If you need additional support, such as at-home care, your doctor can help your arrange this. You will require regular follow-up appointments to monitor disease development and the effectiveness of your treatment plan in supporting you to live with this illness.

If you have any symptoms associated with this condition, or if you have concerns about your neurological health, schedule an appointment with your GP as soon as possible.