Vascular dementia or multi-infarct dementia: symptoms

Vascular dementia, also called multi-infarct dementia, involves disruption of intellectual abilities. Something goes wrong with the blood supply in the brain, which leads to tissue damage. The condition is more common in people over the age of sixty and more common in men than women. What are the causes and symptoms of vascular dementia? How is the diagnosis made, what are the treatment options and what is the prognosis?

Article content

  • Vascular dementia or multi-infarct dementia
  • Mixed dementia
  • Causes of vascular dementia
  • Symptoms of vascular dementia
  • Illness awareness
  • Complications of vascular dementia
  • Diagnosis of vascular dementia
  • Treatment of vascular dementia
  • Prognosis of vascular dementia

Vascular dementia or multi-infarct dementia

In vascular dementia, something goes wrong with the blood supply in the brain. This causes tissue in the brain to become damaged and die (infarction). Vascular dementia is the most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. There are different forms of vascular dementia such as multi-infarct dementia. Multi-infarct dementia involves small strokes. It starts suddenly and the deterioration is gradual, with temporary improvements occurring in between. There are other forms of multi-infarct dementia that start very slowly and deteriorate gradually.

Mixed dementia

Many people suffer from more than one form of dementia, which is why it is sometimes referred to as mixed dementia.

Causes of vascular dementia

Arteriosclerosis, also called atherosclerosis, increases the risk of vascular dementia. You are more likely to develop atherosclerosis if you have high blood pressure, eat a lot of fatty food or smoke. Vascular dementia is more common in men than in women and increases with age.

Symptoms of vascular dementia

The symptoms depend on the locations in the brain that are affected:

  • Performing actions and thinking can become slower, doing two things at the same time becomes a problem;
  • Problems with attention and concentration;
  • Changes of mood;
  • A person may fall into sad moods;
  • Becoming irritated;
  • Finding it difficult to do simple tasks such as putting on clothes;
  • Getting lost in an environment that is familiar;
  • The voice may become softer;
  • Epilepsy may occur;
  • Apathy;
  • Difficulty remembering things;
  • Problems may occur with speaking and language comprehension (aphasia);
  • Making decisions can be difficult;
  • Sometimes difficulty swallowing, a strange way of speaking (diaphrasing);
  • Walking is sometimes difficult: short steps, muscle weakness or even paralysis.

Illness awareness

Someone who suffers from vascular dementia often realizes what changes the disease brings about. This realization can make someone feel sad and can lead to depression. So it is good to be alert to this.

Complications of vascular dementia

People with vascular dementia have an increased risk of a CVA (stroke), which can be fatal.

Diagnosis of vascular dementia

A doctor can usually make the diagnosis based on the symptoms. Other forms of dementia can be ruled out through research. A CT scan or MRI can be performed to see whether there are infarcts.

Treatment of vascular dementia

The dementia itself cannot be cured, but treatment can help prevent new infarctions. A diet low in fats can be prescribed. It is very important not to smoke. Also pay attention to sufficient body movement. The chance of clots forming can be reduced by medication, this also applies to high blood pressure. If someone suffers from weak muscles and is unable to make certain movements, physiotherapy can help. In case of gloomy moods or irritability, a support group may offer a solution, possibly in combination with medication.

Prognosis of vascular dementia

It is important that vascular dementia is recognized at an early stage so that the risk factors can be treated. It is important, for example, that the risk of a stroke is reduced (such as treatment of high blood pressure).

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