Besides Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia. This form of dementia is caused by abnormal blood flow to the brain, causing significant impairments. Since this form of dementia can be caused by multiple conditions, the stages tend to differ from person-to-person.
Some develop vascular dementia following a stroke, while others suffer from damage deep inside the inner parts of the brain, due to subcortical vascular dementia. This is why the course of this disease greatly varies. Within the earliest stages, cognitive functioning regarding memory and reasoning are typically affected.
With vascular dementia, individuals tend to experience periods where their symptoms are stable and manageable, followed by periods when symptoms worsen. The severity and progression of this disease typically depends on underlying risk factors. For example, if you suffer from hypertension, addressing this is critical. The same is true for effectively managing diabetes and high cholesterol. If you smoke, it’s highly recommended that you quit.
How Does Vascular Dementia Progress?
Since there are various causes of vascular dementia, how each individual progresses through each stage depends on numerous factors. One of the most common types of vascular dementia is known as multi-infarct dementia. This is caused by a number of mini-strokes which cause damage to certain areas in the brain, affecting memory, reasoning, and language.
In comparison to those who suffer from Alzheimer’s, for instance, individuals tend to experience more stability in the early stages. In fact, many continue to display their intact personality for longer periods. As time progresses, many experience symptoms such as mood swings, depression, and in more severe cases, instances of epilepsy.
Like other cases of dementia, vascular dementia tends to progress in gradual stages, but in a more step-like manner. As time passes, individuals experience deteriorating abilities. As mentioned, every case is unique. Some will develop symptoms after a stroke, then stabilize. Once they have another stroke, symptoms resurface. Although, symptoms may not last. If another stroke is not experienced, individuals can actually improve in some cases.
The reality is, the majority of individuals who suffer from vascular dementia tend to deteriorate more rapidly than those with Alzheimer’s. They also often experience a fatal major stroke or heart attack based on their health. If you have already suffered from damage, there aren’t treatments to reverse the associated effects, but you can prevent another stroke or control contributing health conditions.
Protect yourself by targeting the underlying cause of your vascular dementia. Take all the necessary steps to reduce your risk of future complications. Speak with your doctor about effective lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of another stroke or worsening cardiovascular health.
Fight Dementia. (2014). Vascular Dementia. Alzheimer’s Australia. Retrieved from