There are two main types of vascular dementia: one caused by stroke and one caused by small vessel disease. A third type is a mixture of the two. There are many other types of vascular dementia.
Stroke is the term used to describe permanent brain damage caused by an interruption in the supply of blood to specific parts of the brain. The symptoms that a person experiences as a result of a stroke depend on which area of the brain has been damaged. If the area in question is responsible for movement of a limb, paralysis might occur. If it is responsible for speech, the person might have problems communicating. Equally, damage to particular areas in the brain can cause the symptoms of dementia.
When vascular dementia is caused by a single stroke, it is sometimes called single-infarct dementia. Vascular dementia can also be caused by a series of small strokes. These can be so tiny that the person might not notice any symptoms, or the symptoms may be only temporary. This is called multi-infarct dementia.
Always consult a doctor if you experience any sudden symptoms, such as slurred speech, weakness on one side of the body, or blurred vision - even if they are only temporary. These episodes may be caused by temporary interruptions in the blood supply within the brain, known as transient ischaemic attacks. If left untreated, they can lead to permanent damage.
Small vessel disease-related dementia
This type of dementia, also known as sub-cortical vascular dementia or, in a severe form, Binswanger's disease, is caused by damage to tiny blood vessels that lie deep in the brain. The symptoms develop more gradually and are often accompanied by walking problems.
Vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease (mixed dementia)
A diagnosis of mixed dementia means that Alzheimer's disease, as well as stroke or small vessel disease, may have caused damage to the brain.