Conditions that damage blood vessels can cause vascular dementia.
This is due to a reduction in the ability of blood vessels to supply the brain with oxygen and nutrients that it requires in oreder to perform thought processes effectively.
Stroke (infarction) and narrowed or chronically damaged blood vessels can lead to dementia.
4 Making a Diagnosis
Doctors usually diagnose vascular dementia based on a medical history for stoke or diseases that affect the heart or blood vessels. There is no specific test that can be used to confirm vascular dementia.
Tests used include:
Lab tests in which the blood pressure and blood levels of sugar and cholesterol are measured. Blood tests can also be carried out to rule out thyroid disorders or vitamin deficiencies as the cause of confusion and memory loss.
Neurological exam to check the overall neurological health. It can be done by checking
muscle tone and strength,
sense of touch and sight,
balance and coordination.
Neuropsychological tests can be used to check a patient's ability to
write or understand language,
work with numbers,
learn and remember information,
respond effectively to hypothetical situations.
Brain imaging tests to pinoint the abnormalities caused by
blood vessel diseases,
tumors or trauma.
Imaging tests include computerized tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonace imaging (MRI).
Carotid ultrasound-is a procedure in which high-frequency sound waves are used to check for signs of narrowing of the carotid areteries (they run on either side of the neck).
The treatment of vascular dementia is aimed at treating the underlying cause, which in this case is damage of vessels.
The type of treatments is different for different patients. They involve prescribing medications which:
Lower blood pressure
Reduce cholesterol levels
Prevent blood clots from forming
Help control the blood sugar in patients with diabetes
Some drugs which can reduce some symptoms of Alzheimer's disease may also be effective in people with vascular dementia.
The drugs include:
Cholinesterase inhibitors like donepezil (Aricept), galantamine (Razadyne) and rivastigmine (Exelon). These drugs act by increasing the levels of a neurotransmitter that is involved in memory and judgement. Nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps and diarrhea are among the adverse effects of these drugs.
Memantine (Namenda), regulates a nurotransmitter that is responsible for processing, storing and retrieving information. Side effects can include headache, constipation, confusion and dizziness.
The following measures can prevent vascular dementia:
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