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Vascular Dementia

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Heart Disease Can Cause Memory Loss

 

Though Alzheimer's Disease is the best-known cause of dementia, another cause is Vascular Dementia. "Vascular" means the vessels, or arteries, that carry blood through your body.

 

Fat, cholesterol and other materials can build up in the arteries creating a plaque. Over time, this plaque continues to build just like the plaque on your teeth builds. Eventually, it narrows the arteries and slows the blood flow and clots can form as a result.

 

TIAs (Transient Ischemic Attacks)

The most common type of vascular dementia involves mini strokes (TIAs) which often go unnoticed. They are caused by small blood clots interrupting regular blood flow to the brain. The result is forgetfulness and confusion. Over time, more areas of the brain become damaged by TIAs and greater memory loss is the result. This type of vascular dementia develops slowly.

 

Usually lapses in memory and reasoning are followed by periods of stabilty, then there is further decline.

 

Stroke

Stroke can be caused by a large blood clot that prevents blood flow to the brain and the brain begins to die. Sometimes the arteries that carry blood to the brain have become hardened and brittle because of plaque build up and they can burst.

 

Symptoms of Vascular Dementia

Some of the symptoms mirror Alzheimer's Disease so it's important to get a proper evaluation.

 

Mental and emotional symptoms include slowed thinking, general forgetfulness, confusion, personality changes, mood swings and loss of social skills.

 

Physical symptoms are dizziness, tremors, rapid shuffling steps, balance problems, and loss of bowel or bladder control.

 

Behavioral symptoms include slurred speech, laughing or crying without apparent cause, difficulty following instructions, and difficulty with ordinary things like a favorite card game.

 

Prevent Vascular Dementia

Managing or preventing heart disease can also prevent memory loss. Steps include lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure, getting regular exercise, maintaining social interactions, maintaining healthy eating habits, keeping the brain active, not smoking (at all) and not drinking heavily.

 

 

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