Vascular dementia or multi-infarct dementia is considered to be an irreversible medical condition. It is the second most common form of dementia, after the Alzheimer disease. It occurs as a result of a single and severe stroke, or a series of small and silent strokes, that leave no trace for predicting that the small strokes may have led to vascular lesions in the patient's brain. These strokes result in the degeneration of the brain nerves, and the vascular system, due to the blockage of the blood vessels leading to the brain. Which thereby inhibits the supply of oxygen as well as essential nutrition to the brain. It is important that you are aware of what happens during a stroke, in order to understand its repercussions better.
These blockages may occur due to cardiovascular problems such as clots, as well as high blood pressure, diabetes, and hypertension. It is only after some time that the symptoms of this condition begin to appear, thus causing a progressive decline in memory and cognitive functions of the individual. These patients need a lot of support and compassion, as they eventually reach the stage during the disease, wherein they cannot perform simple tasks, or look after their own health. The average life expectancy may differ from one case to another, as it is very hard to place a time frame for this condition.
Vascular Dementia Prognosis
Being the second most common form of dementia, it can be assumed that one in every five of all stroke patients may end up being diagnosed with this condition. Patients of Parkinson disease are acutely vulnerable to dementia, as the former triggers this condition in many, if not all cases. However, if this condition is diagnosed on time, it can be prevented with surgery and compensated with proper emotional support. The fact remains that it is exceedingly difficult to differentiate between the symptoms of vascular dementia from those of Alzheimer's, because both portray the same signs. Patients with vascular dementia begin to find it difficult to carry out everyday tasks that they could, once easily perform. They often forget how to dress themselves, or how to drive a car. They find it hard to remember faces, and names, and begin to show signs of physical degeneration with lack of motor control being the most common trait. The usual stages of change in behavioral and muscle control usually occur very gradually and may take several months or years if left untreated.
Stages of Vascular Dementia
As mentioned before, the process is very gradual, though the patients with vascular dementia begin to portray signs of this condition within 6 months from the time of their stroke. People begin to realize that they are finding it hard to keep up with their daily tasks, and are finding it hard to remember facts. Some experience difficulties in talking, with their speech becoming slurred and unclear. Walking also becomes hard, as they can't coordinate their feet properly. Climbing up and down the stairs becomes extremely difficult with some patients refusing to climb down as they fear that they will fall down. They find it difficult to sleep, which makes them cranky and thus, they feel lethargic all the time. One of the other symptoms of the vascular dementia progression, is that they gradually find it hard to comprehend things being told to them. They may end up talking of things that are not all related to what they are being asked to do or say.
|Vascular Dementia Stages||Effect of Vascular Dementia||Prognosis|
Cognitive & Alert
|The first stage has no signs and symptoms, which states clearly that the individual is healthy and alert. The individual does not have difficulty remembering faces, dates, names, or facts. In other words they have not yet been affected by this condition.||No Vascular Dementia|
Very Mild Cognitive Decline
|This is considered as the second stage, wherein the individuals begin to become more forgetful. These could include very minute and undistinguished signs, such as forgetting where they kept their car or house keys or forget the name of an acquaintance, even after having been introduced several times. These signs are often shrugged off and not given due thought.||No Vascular Dementia|
Initial Mild Stage
|This is usually considered as the inception of this type of disorder. During the initial mild stage, the individual will become evidently more forgetful that before. They will find it hard to remember what they were speaking about, they may even forget to do their daily tasks. They will find it increasingly difficult to concentrate at work. This stage usually begins to show its signs, about 5-7 years before the actual prognosis of the existence of this disorder in the individual.||No Vascular Dementia|
|This is the only stage wherein the symptoms become clear for the first time. The condition has advanced to the fourth stage and is very evident now. People suffering through this stage tend to withdraw from family and friends, as they find it difficult to frame sentences and keep up a conversation. They feel threatened and afraid of socializing, as they fear being ridiculed. This stage lasts for 2-3 years, before it gets more severe, if left uncared for. The best way to treat this condition is to encourage the individual to join a community workshop, where they will be made to play games, which will help sharpen their memory and motor skills.||Moderate Vascular Dementia|
|By the time individuals reach stage 5, they need assistance. They need help, in order to do simple tasks, such as dressing up, cooking, and looking after themselves. However, not all patient in this stage, need help, and some manage to carry on with their daily routine, unattended. Nonetheless, the condition and its effects may vary from one case to another.||Semi Severe Vascular Dementia|
Second Last Stage
|This is a severe stage, wherein, individuals begin to lose memory, and often recollect things that happened in their past. They become more delusional and cannot remember the names of close friends and family. Bodily changes also occur, such as incontinence or difficulty controlling bladder flow. Difficulty with motor, and muscle functions in some cases.||Middle Vascular Dementia|
Second Last Stage
|If the condition has progressed this far, there isn't much that medicine can do. All that can be done, is to give these people all the care and love possible. Many in this stage find it hard to speak and need assistance for all activities.||Late Vascular Dementia|
Prevention and Treatment
There are ways by which this condition can be delayed or postponed The safest and easiest way, being that people can try to prevent it from occurring. The fact remains that a healthy lifestyle has a lot to do with having a long healthy life. Cardiovascular problems are one of the biggest culprits that lead to strokes, and heart attacks. Therefore, it should become our priority to try to keep our hearts healthy. Blood pressure and cholesterol, must be brought under control and so should the blood sugar levels so that complications occurring from these conditions can be avoided. A fixed lifespan cannot be conclusively stated, though if the degeneration is occurring at a very rapid rate then the average life expectancy is about 9-10 years and sometimes may extend to more.
With proper care, support, and love, vascular dementia life expectancy may increase, because many patients have managed to live up to a ripe old age. The environment in which they are looked after plays a very important role. Making them feel like they are being treated with respect and dignity, makes it easier for them to lead their remaining years in peace.