A decline in thinking and cognitive skills, vascular dementia is a broad term used to describe problems with reasoning, judgment, and planning skills caused by impaired blood flow to the brain, ultimately depriving the powerhouse organ of the vital oxygen and nutrients it needs.
While common, vascular dementia remains one of the most underdiagnosed forms of dementia. We know that it's caused by conditions that block or reduce blood flow to the brain, but how can we help prevent this from happening? There are several risk factors to be aware of and preventative measures you can take to keep you and your loved ones living a healthy happy life. Let's take a look.
Preventing Vascular Dementia
The good news - there are things you can do to lessen your chances of being diagnosed with vascular dementia. That's right! The ball is in your court here. Take note of the following approaches that may reduce your risk of vascular dementia, and other diseases that affect your heart, blood vessels, and brain health.
- A Healthy Diet - This one goes without saying. If you stick to a healthy, balanced, diet, your chances of living a longer, healthier life are in your favor. Limit the intake of sugar and saturated fats, making sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. A heart-healthy diet like this works to protect the brain.
- Physical Exercise - The benefits of exercise are exponential. It can improve brain function, and protect memory and thinking skills. As you increase your heart rate, the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain is boosted - directly correlating to the prevention of vascular dementia.
- No Smoking - This may come as no surprise, but smoking is extremely detrimental to your health. Smoking thickens your blood, making it harder to travel throughout your body and over time, stresses your blood vessels. The weakened vessels limit blood flow throughout your body and brain, which is a key factor in vascular dementia.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight - Research shows that being overweight or obese, dramatically increases your risk for dementia compared to those with a normal body weight. If you exercise and eat healthily, you can keep many health issues at bay.
- Check Your Levels - Your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol should all sit within the recommended healthy ranges. A diet low in saturated fat may help reduce LDL, or "bad" cholesterol. Regular exercise helps boost HDL or "good" cholesterol.
Non-Preventable Risk Factors
There are some risk factors for vascular dementia that you simply cannot avoid. However, you can still lessen your chances by doing your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle and adhering to the preventative health recommendations listed.
- History of Heart Attack or Stroke - Brain damage occurs during a stroke. If you've already experienced a heart attack or stroke, you may be at an increased risk of vascular dementia.
- Increasing Age - The risk for vascular dementia dramatically increases as you age, especially as you reach your eighties or nineties.
- High Blood Pressure - An elevated blood pressure puts extra stress on blood vessels and your brain.
- Diabetes - High glucose levels are more likely to damage blood vessels throughout your body
Healthy Living, Healthy Brain
While there are some contributing risk factors that you just can't avoid, there's plenty you can do to lessen your chances of getting vascular dementia as you age. Little by little, guide yourself on a path to a healthy lifestyle. Iris Memory Care is here to help you, every step of the way.