About Vascular Dementia
Your brain requires nutrients and oxygen from the bloodstream. If the vasculature that delivers blood to the brain is compromised, your brain cells may not receive the oxygen and nutrients required to function properly. When this happens, it can cause a type of cognitive impairment (i.e., problems with memory and other thinking abilities) known as vascular dementia. Most patients with vascular dementia also have another form of dementia, most commonly Alzheimer’s disease. Patients with multiple forms of dementia are said to have mixed dementia.
Types of Vascular Dementia:
Different forms of vascular dementia reflect the many ways the brain’s blood supply system can become damaged.
Types of vascular dementia include:
- Sub-cortical vascular dementia: Believed to be the most common form of vascular dementia, is caused by harmful alterations to small blood vessels deep within the brain
- Stroke-related dementia: Cognitive impairment caused by a major stroke
- Multi-infarct dementia: Cognitive impairment resulting from multiple small strokes known as transient ischemic attacks (TIAs)
Symptoms of Vascular Dementia
Symptoms of vascular dementia may vary based on which areas of the brain are affected by reduced circulation.
Symptoms of vascular dementia may include:
- Depression or other changes in mood or behavior
- Difficulty with attention/concentration
- Difficulty with planning or problem-solving
- Trouble with learning and memory
Risk Factors for Vascular Dementia
Factors affecting your cardiovascular health can increase your risk for vascular dementia.
Risk factors for vascular dementia may include:
- Age: Vascular dementia is more common in patients older than 65
- Comorbid conditions: Stroke, transient ischemic attacks, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are all associated with vascular dementia
- Personal history: Drinking alcohol, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle can all affect cardiovascular health, making vascular dementia more likely
Treating Vascular Dementia at UT Health Austin
Currently, there are no drugs specifically approved to treat vascular dementia, though patients can benefit from drugs approved for Alzheimer’s disease. Controlling your cardiovascular risk factors through lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet, exercise, and smoking cessation may help you minimize disease progression.
Our clinic uses an interprofessional approach, which means our patients have contact with multiple team members coming from multiple specialties. We discuss each patient as a team to identify the diagnosis and to develop a tailored treatment plan specific to your needs. Whatever your needs are, our team is here to listen and work with you to develop a treatment plan that is right for you.
Care Team Approach
At UT Health Austin, we take a multidisciplinary approach to your care. This means you will benefit from the expertise of multiple specialists across a variety of disciplines caring for you in one place to avoid having to schedule multiple appointments with providers at locations all over the city. The Comprehensive Memory Center care team includes neurologists, a geriatric psychiatrist, neuropsychologists, nurses, a speech-language pathologist, social workers, and more who work together to help you get back to the things in your life that matter most to you.
We collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to identify new therapies to improve treatment outcomes. We are committed to communicating and coordinating your care with referring physicians and other partners in the community to ensure that we are providing you with comprehensive, whole-person care.