The symptoms of vascular dementia can develop slowly over time or begin to appear in quick succession. The disease, in either case, does progressively worsen over time.
According to the NHS, early warning signs of the disease can include mild:
- Slowness of thought
- Difficulty with planning
- Trouble with understanding
- Problems with concentration
- Changes to your mood or behaviour
These symptoms of vascular disease can be easily overlooked in their most mildest of forms.
People may mistaken the symptoms as signs of depression, when in reality brain damage is occurring.
As the brain damage increases, there can be a gradual – hardly noticeable – onset of symptoms.
Alternatively, there can be a cluster of symptoms that appear all at once, with another cluster of more signs appearing months or years down the line.
Depending on which part of the brain is affected, different signs of advanced dementia can occur; these include:
- Significant slowness of thought
- Feeling disorientated and confused
- Memory loss and difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty finding the right words
- Severe personality changes, such as becoming aggressive
- Depression, mood swings and lack of interest or enthusiasm
- Finding it difficult to walk and keep balance, with frequent falls
- Loss of bladder control (incontinence)
- Increasing difficulty with daily activities
If you’re concerned you have early signs of dementia, do discuss your fears with your GP.
READ MORE: Dementia warning: When your mood changes may be something serious
Those at most risk of vascular dementia include those who smoke cigarettes, people who indulge in an unhealthy diet and people who are obese.
Other risk factors include lack of exercise and drinking too much alcohol.
Moreover, there are certain health conditions that also increase your risk of the brain disease.
These are: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes and arrhythmia (i.e. an irregular heartbeat).
Although there is no cure for the brain disease, treatment can help slow down its progression.
The brain damage already done is irreversible (for now), but early treatment is key to slow down more brain damage.
Various medications can be prescribed to treat underlying health conditions, such as diabetes.
Moreover, a low-salt diet, lots of exercise and cutting down on alcohol is encouraged by the national health body.