Vascular dementia: what is it, and what causes it?

Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia (after Alzheimer's disease), affecting around 150,000 people in the UK. Find out more about vascular dementia and what causes it.

 

The word dementia describes a set of symptoms that can include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. In vascular dementia, these symptoms occur when the brain is damaged because of problems with the supply of blood to the brain.

These pages outline the causes, types and symptoms of vascular dementia. It looks at how it is diagnosed and the factors that can put someone at risk of developing it. It also describes the treatment and support that are available.

Causes of vascular dementia

Vascular dementia is caused by reduced blood supply to the brain due to diseased blood vessels.

To be healthy and function properly, brain cells need a constant supply of blood to bring oxygen and nutrients. Blood is delivered to the brain through a network of vessels called the vascular system. If the vascular system within the brain becomes damaged - so that the blood vessels leak or become blocked - then blood cannot reach the brain cells and they will eventually die.

This death of brain cells can cause problems with memory, thinking or reasoning. Together these three elements are known as cognition. When these cognitive problems are bad enough to have a significant impact on daily life, this is known as vascular dementia.

Accessible versions of this information

Watch a signed version of our information about vascular dementia, or listen to it in an audio version.


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