In vascular dementia, cognitive symptoms occur when the brain is damaged due to poor blood supply. Specific symptoms and severity depend on what part of the brain is affected, and to what degree. A main focus is on managing vascular risk factors (e.g blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes) to reduce risk of further vascular damage in the future.
Most people are aware that strokes can cause physical disabilities, but cognitive symptoms following on from a stroke are under-recognized yet common. Post-stroke cognitive impairment can affect a person’s ability to complete everyday tasks such as dressing, cooking a meal, and working.
Cognitive symptoms can occur suddenly following a stroke, or more gradually over time with the build up of vascular damage to deep wiring areas of the brain (small vessel disease). This can result in gradually progressive memory, behavioural and problem solving difficulties.
Vascular changes in the brain often occur alongside other brain conditions, including other forms of dementia such as Alzhiemer’s disease.