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Vascular dementia symptoms

Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia, after Alzheimer’s, and is estimated to affect approximately 150,000 people in the UK. It is caused by reduced blood to the brain, either from the narrowing of small blood vessels or as a result of a stroke. This deprives the brain of vital oxygen and nutrients, eventually killing off vulnerable cells. Dementia develops differently in each individual, with some experiencing a slow development of symptoms and others finding themselves in the midst of cognitive decline suddenly. In both situations, understanding the symptoms of vascular dementia can help you to gain an early diagnosis, support and treatment.

Symptoms of vascular dementia

The symptoms experienced during the development of vascular dementia depend on the area of your brain that has been damaged or deprived of oxygen. Many of them are also found with other forms of dementia. However, some clear signs allow professionals to diagnose vascular dementia more specifically.

The most common signs and symptoms of vascular dementia include:

The most common signs and symptoms of vascular dementia include:

• Slowness of thought or a change in the speed of thinking

• Difficulty with planning and general understanding

• Concentration issues

• Inability to analyse a situation, create a plan and communicate this plan to others

• Feelings of confusion and disorientation

• Problems with walking or an unsteady gait

• Trouble completing tasks

• Changes in mood, personality and behaviour

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During slow onset dementia, it is common for many of these symptoms to be attributed to ageing. However, when they become more apparent – specifically to friends and family – it becomes increasingly important to gain a diagnosis and additional support.

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Causes of vascular dementia

Vascular dementia is caused by a reduction of blood flow to the brain. There are several reasons why this may happen, but the most common are:

• The narrowing or blocking of small blood vessels within the brain

• A single stroke, where the blood flow is temporarily cut off from the brain

• A series of mini-strokes (also known as TIAs) that quickly cause small, but impactful, damage to the brain

The damage caused may be minimal at first. However, vascular dementia is progressive, meaning it is likely to get worse over time. While there is currently no cure, there are several risk factors and lifestyle changes that can increase the chance of it developing.

Risk factors for vascular dementia include:

Increasing age

A history of strokes, ministrokes or heart attacks

Atherosclerosis (the abnormal ageing of blood vessels)

High cholesterol

High blood pressure



Abnormal heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation)

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Recognising these can enable you to slow down the development or reduce the risk of blood flow complications.

Avante Care & Support provides support and care for individuals dealing with vascular dementia. With a commitment to making a positive change for those in our care, our experienced professionals allow you to maintain independence and dignity at all times. To learn more about our homes and care services, contact us today.

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