Exercise and diet help reduce risk for Vascular Dementia
Dear Doctor: My dad has just been diagnosed with vascular dementia. What is it? Can it be prevented?
Dear Reader: Dementia is a general term used to categorize symptoms that relate to the decline or loss of cognitive function. These include confusion, memory loss, impaired language skills, changes in personality or behavior, and the inability to think clearly or perform everyday tasks. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for between 60 and 80 percent of all dementia cases. The mental impairment of Alzheimer’s disease results from a series of complex changes that take place within the structure of the brain itself.
Vascular dementia, which is also called vascular cognitive impairment, causes the majority of non-Alzheimer’s cases of dementia. It occurs when the blood vessels in the body, known as the vascular system, become blocked, diseased or damaged and are unable to provide the brain with normal blood flow. This deprives the brain of adequate oxygen and nutrition, which causes brain cells to die. The resulting injury, which prevents different parts of the brain from communicating with one another, causes symptoms of dementia.