What is vascular dementia? Seven early symptoms of the disease in the early stages

What is vascular dementia? Seven early symptoms of the disease in the early stages

Vascular dementia is just one form of dementia. The word dementia is an umbrella term used to described a set of symptoms that can include memory loss and difficulties with thinking.

It’s a common type of dementia, believed to affect around 150,000 people in the UK.

The symptoms can start suddenly or come on slowly over time. Although many of the signs are similar to those of other types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, there are seven early symptoms to watch out for.

The sooner the disease is diagnosed the sooner the correct treatment can be received.

According to Alzheimer’s Society, the most common cognitive symptoms in the early stages of vascular dementia are problems with planning or organising, making decisions or solving problems, difficulties following a series of steps (such as cooking a meal), slower speeds of thought, and problems concentrating, including short periods of sudden confusion.

A person in the early stages of vascular dementia may also have difficulties with memory – problems recalling recent events (often mild) – language – for example speech may become less fluent – and visuospatial skills – problems perceiving objects in three dimensions.

The research charity adds: “As well as these cognitive symptoms, it is common for someone with early vascular dementia to experience mood changes, such as apathy, depression or anxiety.

“Depression is common, partly because people with vascular dementia may be aware of the difficulties the condition is causing.

“A person with vascular dementia may also become generally more emotional. They may be prone to rapid mood swings an being unusually tearful or happy.”

Other types of dementia include Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia with Lewy bodies, and frontotemporal dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease

The healthcare group says Alzheimer’s disease tends to come on very slowly. In the early stages, people begin to find it difficult to learn new things. Getting confused about what day or time it is can be another early sign.

Dementia with Lewy bodies

There can be very specific early symptoms with this type of dementia. Detailed visual hallucinations which involve seeing things that aren’t there can be an early sign.

As the dementia develops, more typical signs of the disease may begin to show.

Frontotemporal dementia

There are three stand out symptoms of this dementia: the person may become less inhibited and start behaving oddly and inappropriately, speak more hesitantly and have difficulty understanding long sentences, and begin to forget words, what things are called or what they’re used for.

There is no cure for dementia right now, but if it is diagnosed in the early stages, there are ways you can slow it down and maintain mental function.

One of these ways is the MIND diet – a diet developed specifically to help improve brain function and reduce dementia which is a combination of the Mediterranean diet and the blood pressure-lowering DASH diet. 

There are no set guidelines for how to follow the MIND diet other than to eat more of the 10 foods the diet encourages you to eat.

These include green, leafy vegetables, berries, nuts, fish, beans , poultry and even wine.

But foods which contain saturated fats and trans fats should be limited, as studies in the past have found trans fats are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.