Vascular dementia (VaD) is one of the most common types of dementia in older adults. It causes a subtle, progressive decline of memory and other brain function, such as thinking, learning, remembering, organization skills and complex visual processing, and is caused by reduced blood flow in the brain.
VaD may be caused by a stroke, in which the blood supply to the brain becomes blocked, resulting in permanent brain damage. When caused by a single stroke, it's called single-infarct dementia. When caused by a series of small, often unnoticeable strokes, it's called multi-infarct dementia.
Damage to tiny blood vessels that lie deep in the brain may also lead to a type of VaD known as sub-cortical vascular dementia. VaD may also occur with Alzheimer's disease, which causes similar symptoms, such as memory loss.
High blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and alcoholism may cause or increase the risk of vascular disease, such as a stroke, and VaD. It's important to promptly diagnose and treat these conditions to prevent VaD.
Males and African Americans are also at an increased risk of developing the disease.
Our Approach to Vascular Dementia
At UCSF, patients who may have vascular dementia are evaluated by a specially trained team that includes neurologists, radiologists, pharmacists, nurses and other health professionals. Although there's no cure yet, we offer medications to manage symptoms such as memory problems and mood changes.
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UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.