Dementia: Diabetes or heart disease doubles risk of vascular dementia – signs to spot

Such health conditions are fairly common in the UK, and the NHS estimated that around 150,000 people are affected by vascular dementia. More probable after the age of 65, what are the early warning signs? According to the Alzheimer’s Society, one of the most common cognitive symptoms in the early stages of vascular dementia is difficulty concentrating. This may include short periods of confusion, as well as slower speed of thought.

Another early indication of vascular dementia might include difficulty with following a series of instructions, such as following a recipe.

Vascular dementia may also lead to problems with planning or organising, making decisions or solving problems.

In the early stages of the brain disease, memory could be affected although this sign of vascular dementia tends to be “mild”.

It could result in the person struggling to recall recent events.

Read More: Alzheimer’s disease: The warning sign in your eyes

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Language issues could occur, where speech becomes less fluent, and visuospatial skills may be affected.

For instance, the person affected may have problem with perceiving objects in three dimensions.

Mood changes are also common in the early stages of vascular disease, such as:

  • Apathy
  • Depression
  • Anxiety.

“A person with vascular dementia may also become generally more emotional,” said the Alzheimer’s Society.

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“They may be prone to rapid mood swings and being unusually tearful or happy.”

While the speed and pattern of cognitive decline differs for individuals, the disease will progressively get worse.

The symptoms of an advanced stage of vascular dementia include more severe confusion or disorientation.

Unusual behavioural changes may also start to take place – enough to suggest a personality shift.

For instance, a placid person may become uncharacteristically aggressive.

Occasionally, delusions and hallucinations might emerge, where the affected person begins to see things that aren’t really there.

As the brain disease takes over the personality of the affected person, support is likely needed to continue with daily activities, such as getting dressed.

The charity pointed out that a stroke, diabetes, or heart disease puts a person at double risk of developing vascular dementia.

The best preventative tool against vascular dementia is to prevent such conditions in the first place.

This will involve moving the body for at least 30 minutes daily, eating plenty of vegetables and fruits, and leading a healthy lifestyle.

Even if you’ve already been diagnosed with heart disease, diabetes, or a stroke, a commitment to living healthily can help reduce your risk of dementia.

To do such a thing, it’s important to be a non-smoker, to moderate alcohol consumption, and to reduce salt and saturated fat consumption.

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