“Hardening of the arteries” is the way people have described the vascular (blood vessel) problem called multi-infarct dementia. In the past, this colloquial description was a good one, because experts thought that “hardened” and partially clogged arteries produced this particular form of dementia. Today we know that this vascular type of dementia is caused not by partially blocked arteries, but by completely blocked ones. A series of small strokes (or in medical terminology, multi-infarcts) is what produces the changes in memory and thinking.
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel feeding the brain becomes blocked, the blood supply is cut off, and the part of the brain nourished by that vessel either is damaged or dies. A large stroke produces symptoms that are impossible to miss-paralysis, loss of speech, perhaps death. With multi-infarct dementia, strokes are so minor that individually they may cause only transient symptoms or no distinct symptoms at all. But as their number increases and more and more brain tissue dies, intellectual processes gradually get worse.
If you have had a large stroke you are not predestined to suffer from multi-infarct dementia, though you may run a greater risk of developing this disease. Many people who have a large stroke never have multi-infarct dementia, and many people who suffer from multi-infarct dementia never have a large stroke.
The best treatment for multi-infarct dementia is prevention – reducing the risk factors for any type of stroke: control your blood pressure, your weight, your cholesterol; stop smoking.10 Although there is no way of reversing damage that has already been done, making these changes may help slow the illness’s downward course.
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter