Vascular Dementia: Key Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Table of Content

Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. That being given, it is important to know the different causes, symptoms and treatment options. Let’s delve into the topic further.

What is Vascular Dementia?

Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer's disease. It is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain, which can damage brain cells and lead to problems with thinking, memory, and behavior. 

What Abilities are Affected in Vascular Dementia?

Vascular dementia can affect a wide range of abilities, including:

  • Thinking and memory: People with vascular dementia may have difficulty with planning, problem-solving, and decision-making. They may also have trouble remembering recent events.
  • Language: People with vascular dementia may have difficulty finding words, speaking slowly, and understanding conversations.
  • Motor skills: Some people with vascular dementia may have difficulty walking, balancing, or coordinating their movements.
  • Sensory processing: Some people with vascular dementia may have difficulty with vision, hearing, or touch.
  • Behavior: People with vascular dementia may become more irritable, apathetic, or impulsive. They may also have trouble controlling their emotions.
  • Bladder and bowel control: Some people with vascular dementia may have difficulty controlling their bladder or bowels.

What are the Symptoms of Vascular Dementia?

Vascular dementia manifests as a range of cognitive, behavioral, and motor symptoms.

Cognitive Impairment:

  • Memory loss, especially for recent events
  • Difficulty with planning, decision-making, and problem-solving
  • Impaired attention and concentration
  • Executive dysfunction

Behavioral Changes:

  • Emotional lability, including apathy, irritability, and depression
  • Social withdrawal and loss of interest in activities
  • Changes in personality and judgment
  • Compulsive behaviors and repetitive actions

Motor Symptoms:

  • Slowed movement and gait abnormalities
  • Balance problems and increased risk of falls
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills, such as writing and using utensils
  • In severe cases, muscle weakness and rigidity

Vascular dementia symptoms typically progress gradually over time, with fluctuations in severity depending on the underlying cause.

What Causes Vascular Dementia?

Vascular dementia stems from reduced blood flow to the brain, disrupting the delivery of oxygen and nutrients, leading to brain cell damage and cognitive decline. Several factors contribute to this reduced blood flow, including:

  • Strokes: Sudden blockages or ruptures of blood vessels in the brain, depriving surrounding brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients.
  • Mini-strokes: Smaller, often undetected strokes that gradually accumulate damage over time, contributing to cognitive decline.
  • Atherosclerosis: Buildup of plaque in arteries, narrowing them and restricting blood flow to the brain.
  • High blood pressure: Chronically elevated blood pressure can damage blood vessels, increasing the risk of strokes and reduced blood flow.
  • Diabetes: Uncontrolled diabetes can damage blood vessels and impair blood circulation to the brain.

Managing these risk factors through lifestyle changes and medications can help reduce the likelihood of developing vascular dementia.

Types of Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia comprises subtypes influenced by the location and extent of brain damage.

Subcortical Vascular Dementia

Subcortical vascular dementia arises from damage to subcortical areas, affecting deeper brain structures, leading to executive dysfunction, gait abnormalities, and cognitive decline.

Stroke-Related Dementia

Stroke-related dementia results from single or multiple strokes, causing localized brain damage and symptoms including paralysis, language difficulties, and cognitive impairment.

Multi-Infarct Dementia

Multi-infarct dementia arises from numerous small strokes or mini-strokes scattered throughout the brain, leading to gradual cognitive decline, memory loss, and executive dysfunction.

Mixed Dementia

Mixed dementia involves the coexistence of vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease, presenting characteristics of both conditions, making diagnosis more challenging.

Risks of Vascular Dementia

Factors that increase the risk of vascular dementia are vascular risk factors, smoking, cardiovascular diseases, family history, lifestyle, and diet.

Vascular Risk Factors

Vascular risk factors, particularly hypertension (high blood pressure), hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes, increase the risk of vascular dementia. Lifestyle modifications and medications can reduce these vascular risk factors, lowering the risk of vascular dementia. 

Smoking and Vascular Dementia

Smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases that contribute to vascular dementia. Smoking damages blood vessels, promoting atherosclerosis and reducing blood flow to the brain, increasing the likelihood of strokes and cognitive decline. 

Cardiovascular Diseases

Cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, and coronary artery disease, increase the risk of vascular dementia. These conditions damage blood vessels and impair blood flow to the brain, leading to brain cell damage and cognitive decline.

Family History and Genetic Predisposition

A family history of vascular dementia or stroke may indicate a genetic predisposition. Genetics may influence susceptibility to vascular risk factors and increase the likelihood of developing vascular dementia.

Lifestyle and Diet

Unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as physical inactivity, poor diet, and excessive alcohol consumption, increase the risk of vascular dementia. These factors contribute to cardiovascular diseases and vascular risk factors, which increase the likelihood of brain damage and cognitive decline. 

Diagnosis of Vascular Dementia

Diagnosing vascular dementia involves a comprehensive evaluation by a neurologist. Medical history, neurological examination, cognitive assessments, imaging studies, and, in some cases, a lumbar puncture are used to establish the diagnosis. 

Treatment Options for Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia treatment focuses on managing symptoms, addressing underlying conditions, and implementing lifestyle modifications.

Medications for Symptom Management

Medications, such as cholinesterase inhibitors, can improve cognitive symptoms like memory and attention. Medications may also be used to manage behavioral changes and other associated symptoms. 

Addressing Underlying Conditions

Managing underlying vascular risk factors, such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes, is crucial to prevent further brain damage and slow the progression of vascular dementia. Lifestyle modifications and medications can effectively control these risk factors.

Lifestyle and Cognitive Interventions

Lifestyle changes, including regular exercise, a healthy diet, and mental stimulation, can improve overall health and potentially slow cognitive decline. Cognitive interventions, such as cognitive rehabilitation therapy, can help individuals with vascular dementia learn strategies to cope with cognitive impairments and maintain daily functioning.

Caregiver's Support

Caring for someone with vascular dementia can be challenging. Caregivers should seek support from healthcare professionals, support groups, and community resources to manage their own well-being and provide effective care for their loved ones.

How Vascular Dementia can be Prevented

While there is no definitive cure for vascular dementia, several preventive measures can significantly reduce the risk of developing this condition. These strategies primarily focus on managing underlying vascular risk factors and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

  • Controlling Blood Pressure: Hypertension is a major risk factor for vascular dementia. Regularly monitoring blood pressure and maintaining it within a healthy range through lifestyle changes or medication can significantly reduce the risk.
  • Managing Cholesterol Levels: High cholesterol levels contribute to atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in arteries that can restrict blood flow to the brain. Lifestyle modifications and cholesterol-lowering medications can effectively manage cholesterol levels.
  • Controlling Blood Sugar: Diabetes can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of vascular dementia. Proper management of blood sugar levels through diet, exercise, and medication can help prevent vascular complications.
  • Quitting Smoking: Smoking damages blood vessels and increases the risk of stroke, a major cause of vascular dementia. Quitting smoking is a crucial step in reducing vascular dementia risk.
  • Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Obesity is associated with an increased risk of vascular risk factors, including hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can reduce the risk of these conditions and, consequently, the risk of vascular dementia.
  • Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity improves overall cardiovascular health and reduces the risk of vascular diseases that contribute to vascular dementia. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
  • Healthy Diet: A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while limiting saturated and trans fats can help maintain overall health and reduce the risk of vascular risk factors.

Living with Vascular Dementia: How Cadabams Hospital can Help You?

At Cadabams, we offer a comprehensive range of services for individuals with vascular dementia, including:

  • Medical evaluation and diagnosis.
  • Medication management.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Supportive care
  • Palliative care
  • Rehabilitation and Assistive Devices

 If you are searching for a solution to vascular dementia, Cadabam’s Hospitals can help you with its team of specialized experts. We have been helping thousands of people live healthier and happier lives for 30+ years. We leverage evidence-based approaches and holistic treatment methods to help individuals effectively {manage their vascular dementia}. Get in touch with us today. You can call us at +91 97414 76476. You can even email us at



Can different patterns of brain damage lead to vascular dementia?

Yes, different patterns of brain damage can lead to vascular dementia. The pattern of damage depends on the location and severity of the strokes or blood vessel blockages.

What’s the difference between dementia and vascular dementia?

Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia, after Alzheimer's disease. It is specifically caused by a lack of blood flow to areas of your brain, which results in brain tissue damage and death.

Is vascular dementia curable?

No, there is currently no cure for vascular dementia. However, there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Which includes managing the underlying vascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. This may include lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and quitting smoking. Medications may also be prescribed to help control blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.

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