In the past 12 years I have worked with many people who have been diagnosed with different types of dementia. The cases that sadden me the most, are those of young people who have vascular dementia, It saddens me because their memory loss, confusion and deterioration may have been prevented
What is Vascular Dementia
Most of us are familiar with Alzheimer’s type of dementia, but there are other causes of brain damage and memory loss. Vascular dementia is caused by impaired blood flow to the brain. It can be due to a stroke in the brain and many times it develops from mini strokes which are a series of small strokes that may go unnoticed.
Vascular dementia may also be caused from poor circulation that deprives the brain of oxygen and other nutrients. This may be due to clogged arteries or because oxygen isn't getting to the brain.
Clogged Brain Arteries
In the same way clogged arteries can cause damage to the heart, clogged arteries that cause insufficient blood supply to the brain can lead to cognitive decline.
Research shows that those with mild cholesterol build up in their arteries had very little cognitive decline over the 4 years of the study. On the other hand, those with the most clogged arteries had much more cognitive decline and had twice as much chance of getting dementia than the population who did not have clogged arteries!
The good news is that new research shows that those who were treated for high cholesterol and high blood pressure were also able to slow their cognitive decline. Doesn’t it make more sense to prevent clogged arteries before they cause brain damage as well as heart damage?
Dr. Greger’s video “Alzheimer’s & Atherosclerosis of the Brain” shows the connection between clogged arteries and dementia. If you don’t have time to view the entire video (5 ½ minutes) at least go to 1:45 to see what our brain arteries should look like and how the look when they are clogged up with fat and cholesterol. A visual aid can really help us understand what may be happening in our bodies.
The Danger of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing can stop and start. This can cause a lack of oxygen to the brain while asleep.
If you snore and find you are not sleeping well every night or may be sleeping but find you are tired during the day, check with your doctor and get tested for sleep apnea. The test is a simple take home device and well worth checking how you sleep, especially if you snore.
Sleep Apnea is easily treated with devices like a CPAP which make sure you continue to get a regular supply of oxygen while you sleep. Sadly, left untreated, sleep apnea can be very dangerous and can lead to dementia.
Am I scaring you?
One of my clients was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s type dementia. As I learned more about his health history, I discovered that it was his sleep apnea that caused his dementia. I was stunned. I realized that this man, who could no longer function on his own, suffered from memory loss and confusion, could have continued with his normal life if he had only been checked and treated for sleep apnea.
Please get checked if you are tired and especially if you snore.
How to Prevent Vascular Dementia:
The factors that increase your risk of vascular dementia are also the same factors that increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and diabetes. Work with your doctor and/or health practitioner to make the needed lifestyle changes to decrease these risk factors. Lifestyle changes include a healthy diet and regular exercise. Medications may also be needed.
To reduce your risk of getting vascular dementia:
Keep your blood pressure in the normal range.
Prevent and control type 2 diabetes through diet, exercise and/or medication
Keep your cholesterol at normal levels through diet, exercise and/or medication
Do not smoke – smoking can damage your blood vessels
Move – physical activity helps prevent all types of dementia
Please make sure you, your family and your friends do all they can to prevent getting vascular dementia. This is one type of dementia you may be able to prevent!
Oran Aviv has been a reflexologist for 25 years and is also a Certified Validation teacher. She combines both the principles of hand reflexology and Validation to teach ©Hands-on Dementia to help people connect and understand at a deeper level those who have memory loss.
You can follow Oran on:
Facebook: Reflexology – Oran Aviv and see notifications of her future blogs
Youtube – Oran Aviv Reflex and More and learn how you can use hand reflexology for self care
Oran is also the author of Hands-on Dementia for Caregivers, a Step-by-Step Guide to Learn 3 Reflex Points to Help your Loved One and Yourself