Changes to the brain that produce alterations in mental abilities cause dementia. About one to four percent of people over 65 develop vascular dementia, which develops due to reduced blood flow to the brain and tends to get worse over time. However, it is sometimes possible to slow down the changes.
The symptoms of vascular dementia vary depending on the area of the brain affected by the reduced blood flow. They may appear suddenly or gradually and change in a stepwise pattern. Memory, thinking, and reasoning — cognitive skills — are primarily affected. Early symptoms include slowness of thought with difficulty planning actions and trouble understanding information. There may be problems with concentration and mood or behavior changes. Some people experience memory and language problems. In the early stages, these changes may be quite subtle and barely noticeable, sometimes mistaken for the early signs of depression.
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