Vascular Dementia

The Vulnerable Brain

Inadequate blood flow can damage and eventually kill cells anywhere in the body. The brain has one of the body’s richest networks of blood vessels and is especially vulnerable. In vascular dementia, changes in thinking skills sometimes occur suddenly following strokes that block major brain blood vessels. Cognitive impairment also may begin as mild changes that worsen gradually as a result of multiple minor strokes or other conditions that affect smaller blood vessels, leading to cumulative damage.

Know the Signs

Symptoms of vascular dementia can vary widely, depending on the severity of the blood vessel damage and the part of the brain affected. Memory loss may or may not be a significant symptom. Vascular dementia symptoms may be most obvious when they happen soon after a major stroke. Sudden post-stroke changes in thinking and perception may include:

  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Vision loss

These changes may happen at the same time as more familiar physical stroke symptoms, such as a sudden headache, difficulty walking, or numbness or paralysis on one side of the face or the body.

Because vascular dementia may often go unrecognized, we perform screenings with brief tests to assess memory, thinking and reasoning for anyone considered to be at high risk for this disorder. Controlling risk factors that may increase the likelihood of further damage to the brain’s blood vessels, such as smoking, inactivity and poor nutrition, is an important treatment strategy for dementia. There’s substantial evidence that treatment of risk factors may improve outcomes and help postpone or prevent further decline.

We will work with you to develop the best treatment plan for your symptoms and circumstances.