What are the signs and symptoms of vascular dementia?

Symptoms of vascular dementia can appear suddenly and may progress slowly over time. People with vascular dementia may experience:

Difficulty performing tasks that used to be easy, such as paying bills
Trouble following instructions or learning new information and routines
Forgetting current or past events
Misplacing items
Getting lost on familiar routes
Problems with language, such as finding the right word or using the wrong word
Changes in sleep patterns
Difficulty reading and writing
Loss of interest in things or people
Changes in personality, behavior, and mood, such as depression, agitation, and anger
Hallucinations or delusions (believing something is real that is not)
Poor judgment and loss of ability to perceive danger
Symptoms may depend on the size, location, and number of damaged areas of the brain.

How Is Vascular Dementia Diagnosed and Treated?
To diagnose vascular dementia, a doctor may ask about problems with daily activities, conduct memory or thinking tests, and speak with someone who knows the person well to see if symptoms of dementia are present. Medical history, lifestyle, and brain imaging tests are often used to help determine whether vascular dementia is the cause of symptoms.

No treatments are available to reverse brain damage that has been caused by a stroke. Treatment for vascular dementia focuses on preventing future strokes. Medications to prevent strokes, such as blood thinners, may help decrease the risk of further damage to the brain. Medications that help treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease might benefit people with early vascular dementia. A doctor may also recommend treating risk factors, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, through medications and lifestyle changes.

What Can You Do?
A healthy lifestyle is important to help reduce risk factors of vascular dementia. This includes eating well, limiting alcohol, not smoking, exercising, and managing stress.

If you are concerned about vascular dementia symptoms, talk with your doctor. If you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed, explore the resources on this website and linked below to find out more about the disease, care, support, and research.

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