Once suspecting symptoms surface, it’s important to go through proper testing. Confirming a diagnosis for vascular dementia can be challenging, especially when this form of dementia is in its earliest stages. Although it can be frightening, do not put off seeing a doctor. The sooner you know, the better.
The benefits of being testing earlier are substantial. Some individuals are able to implement lifestyle changes that can slow down the progression of vascular dementia and in the long-term, could even save their life, protecting them from a potential massive stroke or fatal heart attack.
Testing for Vascular Dementia
When being tested for vascular dementia, it’s important to receive an accurate diagnosis. In order to do so, a number of tests will need to be conducted. Since vascular dementia is fairly unique from person-to-person, numerous tests and assessments will need to be done and may vary between cases.
First, your doctor will focus on your symptoms. If you are concerned about yourself or your loved one, write done everything that’s unusual. This can be highly beneficial for your doctor, as its gives them greater insight. It helps to add dates, as this can show how quickly symptoms have progressed and could reflect certain patterns.
Next, a look into your full medical history will be required. This helps to see potential underlying causes or conditions that could contribute to vascular dementia. One of the most common factors is a stroke, as well as hypertension. Since vascular dementia is closely linked to cardiovascular health, any complications regarding one’s heart, blood pressure, or even cholesterol and blood sugar can offer clues in terms of a diagnosis.
In order to better understand your current state of health, a full physical exam may also be required. Depending on the circumstance, a range of tests may need to be administered, such as blood and heart rhythm tests. Some doctors may also suggest tests to rule out other possibilities, such as a vitamin B12 deficiency. At this time, all medications that you’re currently taking will also need to be reported.
Before you take part in brain imaging, a neurological exam can be beneficial. There are plenty of mini tests which can examine your balance, coordination, sensory perception, muscle tone, and reflexes. These tests can yield clues regarding your neurological health. Cognitive exams are also often used in order to test an individual’s ability to problem solve, exercise short-term memory, and understand language.
You may need to see a specialist if your doctor believes that vascular dementia or another form of dementia is the core cause of your symptoms, and this is when brain scans will be done. The first will more than likely be a CT scan, testing for signs of a stroke or a potential tumor. An MRI may also be done, providing even greater detail in terms of brain and blood vessel abnormalities.
If your doctor is this thorough, the results from all of these tests will give your him/her a much clearer picture of what’s going on in terms of a cause. Since there is generally some overlap regarding vascular dementia and other forms of dementia, this extensive testing can help rule out other possibilities in order to determine whether or not vascular dementia has developed.
NHS. (2015). Vascular Dementia – Diagnosis. National Health Services. Retrieved from