• Kathryn Watson

Strokes and Vascular Dementia



Vascular dementia is commonly associated with strokes that affect the left hemisphere. This affects reasoning, planning, judgment, memory, and other thought processes.


Vascular dementia is caused by brain damage from impaired blood flow. It occurs from damaged blood vessels and reduced circulation. The severity of vascular dementia will depend on the location and how much of the brain is damaged.


Strokes




There are different types of strokes. People have a stroke when there is a problem with the blood flow to the brain. If the blood vessel is blocked from a blood clot, it is an ischemic stroke.


This is what causes most strokes. A stroke that occurs from a burst blood vessel is known as a hemorrhagic stroke. These are less common but often fatal.


Strokes can cause brain damage and this can lead to vascular dementia. Not everyone who suffers a stroke will develop vascular dementia. It does increase your chances.


People over 65 with a high risk of having a stroke are often at risk of developing dementia. Your age and medical background also factor in your developing dementia.


Vascular Dementia


Vascular dementia is most often associated with strokes. While symptoms will most often appear after someone suffers a stroke, it is not the only cause. The issues that lead a person to stroke are also factors.


You increase your risk of stroke and vascular dementia from the same factors. Smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Keeping these issues at bay may stave off a stroke or vascular dementia.


Those suffering from vascular dementia will experience issues with memory, reasoning, and other thought processes, like judgment and planning. How severe your symptoms will be will depend on how badly your brain was damaged, and where.


Because symptoms may appear directly after suffering a stroke is the main reason it is associated with stroke. It is not uncommon for the two to be connected.


Vascular dementia may also follow a mini-stroke, or develop slowly like Alzheimer’s. It is quite common for people to develop both Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia together.


Causes of Strokes Leading to Vascular Dementia




While strokes tend to be the major cause, it is not limited to them. Strokes can cause a blockage in an artery in your brain. There are strokes that are very apparent and strokes that are not noticeable. Some are smaller and can occur repeatedly.


Silent strokes can be just as deadly and hazardous. These can occur many times without a person being aware. These and apparent strokes can increase your chances of vascular dementia.


A brain hemorrhage which is often caused by high blood pressure can also be a factor. The blood vessels become weak and cause a brain bleed. Aging can also make the blood vessels weaker, and that may lead to a protein build-up.


Other issues, like age, diabetes, high blood pressure can make the blood vessels weak or thin. When the blood vessels are damaged, it can lead to vascular dementia.


Stroke and Vascular Dementia


There are actually multiple diseases and health concerns that can lead to dementia. The two main ones are stroke and Alzheimer’s. While memory loss is a symptom, that alone does not indicate dementia.


Vascular dementia is diagnosed in at least 10 percent of all dementia cases. It is defined by the blockages of blood vessels in the brain. This leads to a progressive decline in thinking skills.


There are no treatments available to repair the damage caused by a stroke. There are treatments to prevent more strokes from hitting. There are medications to relieve some of the symptoms, like depression and insomnia.


Prevention




Trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle will help prevent strokes and vascular dementia. Quitting smoking and losing any excess weight is a good place to start.


High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes can all be factors that can lead to a stroke. If you already have diabetes, keep vigilant with your glucose levels.


Exercise and moderation are key for a healthier lifestyle. This is particularly important if you are over 65. Age is another contributing factor and increases your chances of having a stroke.


You don’t need to strain yourself physically to get exercise. A walk to the store, an easy walk around your neighborhood every morning or evening, or both. Even some light housework can help keep you fit and active.


For those with mobility concerns, try stretching, muscle-toning in place, easy yoga moves, and even some light weights. Keeping your cholesterol in check will also help you prevent strokes.


No one can completely stay safe from strokes or dementia, but where you can make a difference, you should. Taking care of ourselves is the best prevention. Look for community support regarding strokes and dementia for you or your loved ones.



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