What is vascular dementia and what are the causes and treatment?
The word dementia is used to describe a group of dementia symptoms which include confusion, mood variances and memory loss. Dementia is not a disease but the name for problems with metal abilities caused by changes in the brain. These are caused by several different diseases the four most prevalent types are Alzheimer’s (named after Alois Alzhemer’s study in 1901), Vascular dementia which is the second most common up to 20 in every 100 cases. Frontotemporal and Lewy Bodies.
Causes of Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia – this happens when the blood vessels in the brain are damaged. This in itself reduces blood flow to the cells in the brain, and how it works. The result is memory, problem solving and thinking processes decline. This does not always result in a diagnosis of dementia as the symptoms are not clear enough to define.
Strokes – This occurs when the blood supply to parts of the brain get cut off. Resulting factors may be lack of movement, co-ordination and speech or sight impairment but this all depends on which part of the brain was effected. The diagram below labels the parts of the brain and what functions they relate to.
Some people may have several mini strokes that are in some cases too small for the person to actually notice. These are called transient ischaemic attacks, (transient means temporary and ischaemic means inadequate supply of blood) which you may have heard as the term TIA’s, these are temporary disruptions to the blood supply to the brain. This is a blockage which is generally caused by a blood clot in one of the arteries which have thickened or narrowed.
As we get older peoples arteries tend to harden, narrow and weaken increasing risk, these include people who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, people with heart disease or diabetes, people who smoke or drink a high volume of alcohol. When a disruption occurs it deprives the brain of oxygen and nutrients which are needed to keep the brain tissue healthy. TIA’s are sometimes referred to as mini strokes and can be a warning sign that the person is at risk of a stroke.
Vascular Dementia Treatment
A non-drug approach is always preferable if possible, this would be personalised activities and social interaction, which can often help. This approach should be considered before taking the Antipsychotic drugs which are prescribed for psychological symptoms such as hallucinations or aggression. Ongoing psychosocial interventions along with close monitoring have been deemed as far more beneficial for people living with dementia. In some studies analgesics were administered which seemed to have good results.
Larchfield House prefers to take the non-drug route if at all possible, it is far better to understand the triggers for the behaviours, which can be as simple as I am in pain but am unable to communicate the fact.
If you require any further information on vascular dementia or dementia care please give us a call on 01628 639428, or drop in to speak of one of our staff.