Vascular Dementia Causes, Prevention, And Treatment


Vascular dementia is a phrase that broadly refers to issues with reasoning, planning, judgement, memory, and other mental processes that are brought on by brain damage from decreased blood supply to your brain.

Vascular dementia is not necessarily caused by strokes; nevertheless, it can occur when a stroke clogs an artery in the brain. Your stroke's intensity and location will determine if it has an impact on your thinking and reasoning. 

Vascular dementia may also be brought on by other conditions that damage blood vessels and reduce circulation, depriving your brain of vital oxygen and nutrients.

Your chance of developing vascular dementia is increased by the same risk factors for heart disease and stroke, such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Keeping these things under control may reduce your risk of vascular dementia.


Vascular dementia is a disease that affects the blood arteries in your brain, making it less able to provide your brain with the nutrients and oxygen it requires to function properly.

Vascular dementia may be caused by a number of common diseases, including:

Blockage of a brain artery by a stroke (infarction). Vascular dementia is often one of a number of symptoms brought on by strokes that block a brain artery. However, not all strokes result in any obvious symptoms. The risk of dementia is nevertheless raised by these quiet strokes.

The likelihood of developing vascular dementia rises with time and the number of strokes, whether silent or obvious. Multi-infarct dementia is one kind of vascular dementia in which there have been several strokes.

Brain bleeding. Often brought on by weakened blood vessels resulting in elevated blood pressure to bleeding into the brain that causes injury or from protein accumulation in tiny blood vessels that occurs with ageing and gradually weakens them (cerebral amyloid angiopathy).

Brain blood arteries that are continuously damaged or narrowed. Vascular dementia can also be brought on by illnesses that constrict your brain's blood vessels or harm them permanently. These problems include the deterioration brought on by age, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, aberrant blood vessel ageing, and diabetes.

Risk Factors

The risk factors for heart disease, stroke, and vascular dementia are generally the same. Vascular dementia is at risk for a number of reasons.

Advancing years. As you age, your chance of developing vascular dementia increases. Prior to age 65, the condition is uncommon, and by your 90s, the risk has significantly increased.

Heart attacks, strokes, or ministrokes in the past. You could be more likely to experience issues with the blood vessels in your brain if you have had a heart attack. Dementia risk may be impacted by the brain damage brought on by a stroke or ministroke (transient ischemic attack).

Abnormal blood vessel ageing (atherosclerosis). This problem develops when plaques (deposits of chemicals like cholesterol) accumulate in your arteries and constrict your blood vessels.

Atherosclerosis can raise your chance of developing vascular dementia by decreasing the blood supply to your brain.

Elevated cholesterol. Vascular dementia risk is raised by high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad" cholesterol.

Elevated blood pressure. The blood arteries throughout your body, including those in your brain, are subjected to additional strain when your blood pressure is too high. This raises the possibility of cerebral vascular issues.

Diabetes. Your entire body suffers blood vessel damage from high glucose levels. Your risk of stroke and vascular dementia might rise if your brain blood arteries are damaged.

Smoking. Smoking causes immediate blood vessel damage, which raises your risk of vascular dementia, atherosclerosis, and other circulatory illnesses.

Obesity. A well-known risk factor for vascular disease is being overweight which likely raises your chance of developing vascular dementia.

Fibrillation of the heart. Your heart's upper chambers start to beat quickly and erratically, out of sync with its bottom chambers, during this abnormal cardiac rhythm. As atrial fibrillation makes blood clots develop in the heart that can separate and go to the blood arteries in the brain, it raises your risk of stroke.


The symptoms of vascular dementia differ according to the area of the brain where blood flow is compromised. The signs and symptoms of different forms of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease and dementia, frequently coincide. However, unlike Alzheimer's disease, the most important signs of vascular dementia typically include thinking quickly and solving problems rather than memory loss.

Signs and symptoms of vascular dementia include:

  • Confusion
  • Problems focusing and paying attention
  • Diminished capacity to plan ideas or actions
  • Decreased capacity to understand a problem, create an effective strategy, and explain that plan to others
  • Slow thinking 
  • Organizational challenges 
  • Not knowing what to do next
  • Memory issues 
  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • The urge to pee suddenly or frequently, or difficulty stopping urinating
  • Depression or apathy
  • Arterial dementia

When symptoms appear abruptly after a stroke, they could be the most distinct. This illness is frequently referred to as post-stroke dementia when changes in your reasoning and thinking appear to be directly related to a stroke.

Following a string of strokes or ministrokes, vascular dementia symptoms can occasionally develop in a recognisable pattern. In contrast to the slow, continuous decline that frequently characterises Alzheimer's disease and dementia, changes in your mental processes happen in observable stages downhill from your prior level of performance.

However, exactly like dementia caused by Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia can also appear very gradually. Additionally, Alzheimer's disease and vascular disease frequently co-occur.

According to studies, Alzheimer's disease affects a large number of persons who have dementia and signs of brain vascular disease.


Your general heart health and the condition of your brain's blood arteries are tightly related. These precautions for maintaining heart health may also lower your chance of developing vascular dementia:

Keep a normal blood pressure. Both Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia may be prevented by maintaining normal blood pressure.

Regulate or prevent diabetes. Another potential approach to reduce your risk of dementia is to avoid the formation of type 2 diabetes through diet and exercise. 

Controlling your blood sugar levels, if you already have diabetes, may aid in preventing damage to your brain's blood vessels.

Give up smoking. Everywhere in your body, blood vessels are harmed by smoking tobacco.

Engage with some workouts. Everyone's wellness strategy should include regular physical exercise as a crucial component. In addition to all of its other advantages, exercise may prevent vascular dementia.

Maintain a healthy cholesterol level. Your risk of strokes and heart attacks that might result in vascular dementia may be decreased with a healthy, low-fat diet and cholesterol-lowering drugs, if necessary. This is likely because these measures will lessen the amount of plaque that builds up inside your brain's arteries.


The management of the medical diseases and risk factors that cause vascular dementia is a common focus of treatment.

Controlling disorders that have an impact on your heart and blood vessels underlying health can occasionally delay the rate at which vascular dementia worsens and can occasionally stop further decline. Your medical professional could suggest drugs for you if:

  •  You become more hypertensive
  • You decrease your cholesterol
  • You keep your arteries open and prevent blood clots
  • If you have diabetes, manage your blood sugar.

Although it has not been demonstrated that these can change how vascular dementia progresses, your doctor will probably advise you to:

  • Engage in routine physical exercise
  • Try to eat healthily and keep your weight in check.
  • Take part in social interactions
  • Play brain-taxing games, solve brainteasers, and engage in novel pursuits like painting classes or music concerts.
  • Limit your alcohol consumption.


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Page last reviewed: Mar 21, 2023

Next review due: Mar 21, 2025

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