Vascular dementia: causes, symptoms and treatment
Among the neurological diseases associated with aging, dementias are among the most common. They are a group of relatively varied disorders, but in general they are related to the appearance of memory and language problems.
In this article we will focus on vascular dementia or multi-infarct dementia, a disease with serious effects on the brain.
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What is vascular dementia?
We understand as vascular dementia a form of neurological disorder whose most important symptom is the loss of memory and memory skills and that, in addition, has been caused by ischemic problems in the brain .
In short, in vascular dementia the impairment of cognitive, motor and emotion regulation skills they are produced by the death of large numbers of neurons and glial cells that, because of small cerebral infarcts, are without oxygen.
Thus, the main cause of this disease are strokes, although these are also associated with risk factors to be taken into account.
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The presence of diabetes or hypertension It is one of the main risk factors, since people who have these conditions have a greater chance of developing vascular dementia.
On the other hand, smoking, alcoholism, high cholesterol levels in blood, autoimmune diseases and in general belonging to the low socioeconomic class also make the chances of developing this disease grow significantly. The passage through complex surgeries in which general anesthesia is used, on the other hand, is also a risk factor.
With regard to age, the group that is most threatened is the one between 50 and 60 years old , followed by the one that goes from 60 to 70. In the case of men, the risk is greater, since this is a disease that affects men more.
Symptoms and signs
The symptoms of vascular dementia can vary a lot , since the areas of the brain affected by ischemic accidents are also very varied. However, it is possible to recognize certain patterns of deterioration that are met in a large number of cases in which the patient has this disease. These symptoms are the following.
People with this type of dementia tend to be self-absorbed and lack willpower or motivation, a phenomenon known as abulia. This means that certain cases may end up looking like patients with disorders associated with depression.
2. Confusion and disorientation
The problems when it comes to knowing where and at what time it is also common. The appearance of these moments is usually abrupt, and they get worse with the passage of time. These episodes may appear in the form of outbreaks they disappear in a matter of minutes, although with the increase in age they become longer and more common until they become the normal psychological condition of the person.
3. Personality change
This is the symptom most complained by family members of patients. In a short time, people with vascular dementia can go on to show a personality significantly different from the one that has defined them throughout their lives.
4. Frequent falls and alterations in walking
Alterations in posture and lack of coordination of movements they are also two typical symptoms that appear when the course of the disease has already advanced after the first stages of deterioration. This causes these people to fall more frequently.
Types of vascular dementia
Vascular dementia is a clinical concept that is not composed of identical diseases. That is why a series of categories, or types of vascular dementia, has been established in order to distinguish the characteristics of the health problem suffered by each patient. These diagnostic categories are the following .
Also known as subcortical vascular dementia, in this disease the cellular tissue that has been affected by the lack of oxygen is the connective, that is, the one that makes up the white matter located below the cerebral cortex .
This disorder is usually associated with problems of mental agility and language, as well as memory, although the exact symptoms vary depending on the lobe and hemisphere of the brain that has been affected. Problems in the regulation of emotions is also relatively common.
Cortical vascular dementia
In this disease dead cells are located in the cerebral cortex.In many cases, the lack of blood supply has been generated by thrombosis or stroke which affects relatively small areas.
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This category is used to include in it cases in which the disease may have been caused by degenerative processes that have occurred in parallel, such as different types of dementias and / or Alzheimer's disease.