Vascular dementia

Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia. It is caused by a reduction in blood supply to the brain.

It may occur as a result of a stroke or a series of small or mini strokes (TIAs) which can affect any part of the brain. Alternatively it can be caused by a gradual hardening of the blood vessels deep in the brain, typically affecting parts that are important for attention, memory and language.

Symptoms of vascular dementia can appear gradually or suddenly depending on the cause. They include:

  •     Becoming slower in thinking
  •     Disorientation, especially away from normal surroundings
  •     Difficulty finding words
  •     Memory problems and regularly misplacing items
  •     Becoming more emotional
  •     Difficulty walking or a change in the way a person walks

Treatment for vascular dementia

The Alzheimer's drug treatments are not normally prescribed for people with vascular dementia, but may be useful in a 'mixed dementia' where there is both Alzheimer's and vascular dementia present. Although the brain damage that causes vascular dementia cannot be reversed, it may be possible to slow the progression of the disease by:

  • Taking medication to treat any underlying conditions, such as stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or heart problems
  • Adopting a healthier lifestyle by stopping smoking, taking regular exercise, eating healthily, and drinking alcohol only in moderation
  • Rehabilitative support, such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy can also be helpful.

How family and friends can help

Support for people living with vascular dementia in Wiltshire