Vascular dementiais a common form of dementia that's estimated to affect more than 135,000 people in the UK.

The term dementia describes a loss of mental ability (cognitive impairment)associated with gradual death of brain cells. It's rare in anyone younger than 65.

Signs and symptoms

Manycases of vascular dementia start with earlywarning signs, including slight:

  • slowness of thought
  • difficulty with planning
  • trouble with language
  • problems with attention and concentration
  • mood or behavioural changes

See your GP if you notice these signs. If it's spotted at an early stage, lifestyle changes and treatment may be able to stop the vascular dementia getting worse, or at least slow its progression.

Left untreated, your symptomsmay continue to get worse.

If you're worried about someone else, encourage them to make an appointment andmaybe suggest you go along with them.

Your GP can do some simple checks to see if there is a chance you could have dementia, and they can refer you to a specialist if necessary.

The specialist willcarry outa physical check-up and an assessment of your mental abilities. You may also have Blood tests and brain scans.

The results of these checks and tests will give your doctor a good idea as to whether your symptoms are caused by vascular dementia, another type of dementia, or something else entirely.

However, treatmentmay help slow down the progression of the condition.

Medicinesand lifestyle changes will be recommended to tackle the underlying cause, such as high blood pressure.

This includes:

  • eating healthily
  • losing weight , if you are overweight
  • stopping smoking , if you smoke
  • getting fit
  • cutting down on alcohol

Support such as physiotherapy , occupational therapy and speech and language therapy can helppeople regain lost functions, and dementia activities such as memory cafs and some psychological therapies can help manage symptoms.

Thisoften happens in sudden steps, with relatively stable periods in between, although it's difficult to predict when these steps will happen.

Although treatment can help, vascular dementiacan significantly shorten life expectancy. The average survival time from diagnosis is around four years.

Most people will die either from complications of dementia, such as pneumonia , or from a subsequent stroke.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, you are not alone. The NHS, social services and voluntary organisations will be able to provide advice and support to help you and your family.

More information

Living with dementia

Find dementia activities near you

Living well with dementia

Staying independent with dementia

Dementia activities

Looking after someone with dementia

Dementia and your relationships

Communicating with people with dementia

Coping with dementia behaviour changes

Care and support

Sources of help and support

Talk it through with a dementia nurse

Organising care at home

Dementia and care homes

Dementia, social services and the NHS

Dementia and your money

Managing legal affairs for someone with dementia

End of life planning

How you can help

Become a Dementia Friend

Share your dementia experiences

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 20 May 2016