Vascular dementia

Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of diseases that affect different brain functions, including memory.

Vascular dementia is a common type of dementia. It’s caused by reduced blood flow to the brain.

Symptoms of vascular dementia

Vascular dementia can start suddenly or begin slowly over time.

Symptoms include:

  • slowness of thought
  • difficulty with planning and understanding
  • problems with concentration
  • changes to your mood, personality or behaviour
  • feeling disoriented and confused
  • difficulty walking and keeping balance
  • symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, like problems with memory and language

Many people with vascular dementia also have Alzheimer’s disease.

These problems can make daily activities increasingly difficult.

Causes of vascular dementia

Vascular dementia is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain. This damages and eventually kills brain cells.

Reduced blood flow to the brain can be caused by:

Risk factors for vascular dementia

Vascular dementia is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain. This is often linked to underlying conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and irregular heart rhythms. It can also be linked to lifestyle factors like smoking and being overweight.

Tackling these might reduce your risk of vascular dementia in later life.

When to speak to a healthcare professional

If you’re worried about your memory or think you may have dementia, you should speak to your GP.

If you’re worried about someone else, you should encourage them to make an appointment. You could suggest that you’ll go with them.

More advice if you’re worried about dementia

Diagnosing vascular dementia

Memory problems are not only caused by dementia. They can also be caused by depression, stress, medications or other health problems.

Your GP can carry out some simple checks to try to find out what the cause may be. They can refer you to a specialist for more tests, if necessary.

Treatment for vascular dementia

There’s currently no cure for vascular dementia. But, there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms. Your GP or healthcare professional can discuss the best treatment options for you.

There are things you can do to live well for as long as possible with dementia.

Read more about living well with dementia

Your future health and social care needs will need to be assessed and a care plan drawn up.

This is a way of ensuring you receive the right treatment for your needs. It involves identifying areas where you may need some help, like:

  • what support you or your carer need for you to remain as independent as possible
  • whether there are any changes that need to be made to your home to make it easier to live in
  • whether you need any financial assistance

Last updated:
27 May 2024