Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most prevalent, so if a member of your family has been diagnosed with the disease, you will undoubtedly want to know: what is the vascular dementia life expectancy?
The main cause of vascular dementia is an interruption to the blood supply affecting the brain and it was once originally thought to be the result of a series of mini strokes. Although not all stroke patients will go on to develop the symptoms of vascular dementia, as many as one third of patients do show symptoms within six months.
Research into vascular dementia has shown that the disease can also be caused by other health conditions affecting the blood supply to the brain and any disease that causes the narrowing of blood vessels can lead to symptoms of vascular dementia. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes.
What are the symptoms of vascular dementia?
The first noticeable symptoms of vascular dementia tend to be the neurological ones: problems with motor reflexes, movement, and muscle weakness are usually the first sign that something is wrong. This is different to the other main form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, in which the earliest symptoms are usually problems with memory loss and behavioral changes. By contrast, memory loss usually occurs much later in patients suffering from vascular dementia.
Unlike Alzheimer’s disease, the symptoms in patients with vascular dementia tend to alternate between plateaus of relative stability, followed by a sudden deterioration in function, whereas Alzheimer’s patients usually show a much more gradual worsening of symptoms as the disease progresses.
What is the vascular dementia life expectancy?
There is no known cure for patients showing the symptoms of vascular dementia and the average life expectancy in someone with the disease will vary a great deal. When the symptoms of vascular dementia have been caused by a series of strokes, it is highly likely that the patient will get progressively worse if further strokes occur, and in the event of another major stroke the prognosis is fairly bleak.
The presence of other health conditions may have a significant effect on the life expectancy of a patient with vascular dementia. Age will also play a part and each case must be treated on an individual basis, but with the right treatment, it is possible to slow down the effects of vascular dementia, which will give the patient a better quality of life and a greater life expectancy.
Medications used to treat other forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s can also be used to help slow down the progression of vascular dementia and increase the life expectancy in the patient. Lifestyle changes can also help to prevent the symptoms of the disease from worsening.
In cases of vascular dementia caused by high blood pressure, cholesterol problems or other serious health issues, regular health checks to monitor weight, blood pressure and cholesterol are also vital for ensuring the blood flow to the brain is kept as free as possible.