Among the neurological diseases associated with aging, dementias are among the most common. They are a group of relatively varied disorders, but are generally 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.

What is vascular dementia?

We understand vascular dementia as a form of neurological disorder whose most important symptom is the loss of memory and memory skills and which, in addition, has been caused by ischemic problems in the brain .

In short, in vascular dementia the deterioration of cognitive and motor capacities and of the regulation of emotions are produced by the death of large quantities of neurons and glial cells that, due to small cerebral infarctions, are left without oxygen.

Thus, the main cause of this disease is strokes, although these are also associated with risk factors to be taken into account.

Risk factors

The presence of diabetes or hypertension is one of the main risk factors, as people with these conditions have a greater chance of developing vascular dementia.

On the other hand, smoking, alcoholism, high levels of cholesterol in the blood, autoimmune diseases and in general belonging to the low socioeconomic class also make the possibilities of developing this disease grow significantly. Going through complex surgeries using general anesthesia, on the other hand, is also a risk factor.

In terms of age, the most threatened group is that of 50 to 60 years old , followed by that of 60 to 70. In the case of men, the risk is higher, as this is a disease that affects men more.

Symptoms and signs

The symptoms of vascular dementia can vary greatly , as the areas of the brain affected by ischemic accidents are also very varied. However, it is possible to recognize certain patterns of deterioration that occur in a large number of cases where the patient has this disease. These symptoms include the following.

1. Abulia

People with this type of dementia tend to be self-absorbed and lack willpower or motivation, a phenomenon known as abulia. This makes certain cases seem like patients with depression-related disorders.

2. Confusion and disorientation

Problems in knowing where and when you are are also common. The appearance of these moments is usually abrupt, and they get worse as time goes by. These episodes can appear in the form of outbreaks that disappear in a matter of minutes, although with increasing age they become longer and more common until they become the person’s normal psychological condition.

3. Personality change

This is the symptom that patients’ families complain about the most. In a short time, people with vascular dementia can go on to show a significantly different personality from the one that has defined them throughout their lives.

4. Frequent Falls and Gait Disturbances

Alterations in posture and lack of coordination of movements 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 often.

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, have been established in order to distinguish the characteristics of the health problem suffered by each patient. These diagnostic categories are the following .

Binswanger’s disease

Also known as subcortical vascular dementia, in this disease the cellular tissue that has been affected by the lack of oxygen is the connective tissue, that is to say, the one that composes the white substance located below the cerebral cortex .

This disorder is often associated with problems of mental and language agility, 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, the dead cells are located in the cerebral cortex. In many cases, the lack of blood supply has been generated by thrombosis or by cerebral embolism affecting relatively small areas.

Mixed dementia

This category is used to include cases in which the disease may have been caused by degenerative processes that have occurred in parallel, such as different types of dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease.