Difference Between Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia Based on: Prevalence, Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Preventive Measures

Both Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia are the types of dementia. They have many symptoms in common and also vary in many ways. Knowledge of the difference of both is necessary in case you encounter a patient suffering from either of the two. This article deals with the difference between Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia for better understanding and management of these conditions.

Both Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia are the types of dementia. They have many symptoms in common and also vary in many ways. Knowledge of the difference of both is necessary in case you encounter a patient suffering from either of the two. This article deals with the difference between Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia for better understanding and management of these conditions.

Difference Between Alzheimer’s And Vascular Dementia

As both the conditions are some or the other type of dementia, it is common to mix up the two. But the two conditions surely have some differences in them, which when understood well can help in dealing with the condition better.

Let us look at the difference between Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia

Difference Between Alzheimer’s And Vascular Dementia Based on Prevalence

  • One of the main difference between Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia is in their prevalence and
  • Alzheimer’s is the more common type of dementia when compared with vascular dementia. Around 5 million Americans are known to suffer from Alzheimer’s.
  • Vascular dementia is less prevalent, and is found occurring in 3-4 percent of the population above 65 years. This percentage doubles as we go above 65 years of age.

Causes

The other main area of difference between Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia is their causative factors.

  • In Alzheimer’s, the neurons die due to the clumps of sticky proteins. The exact cause of the protein or the Alzheimer’s occurrence is not known but there are various factors which can be counted as contributing components, such as, genetic, lifestyle, and other environmental conditions. Human brain comprises of white and grey matter.
  • In Alzheimer’s, the grey matter is largely affected. Chances of developing it can be decreased by following an exercise schedule and maintaining an active mind.
  • Whereas, the cause of vascular dementia can be a specific event such as stroke or a transient ischemic attack, which interrupts the blood flow to the brain. The condition can become worse over a period of time. The white matter of the brain is affected in this condition.

Risk Factors

  • Similar to causes, the risk factors of the two conditions also vary, which must be included in the difference between Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.
  • Risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease are age, genetic factors, and general health.
  • Risk factors for vascular dementia include various disease conditions such as diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, periphery artery disease, and high blood pressure.

Symptoms

The difference between Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia also include the symptoms of the two conditions. Symptoms related to cognition and physical movements are noted in both, but vary in their nature.

Cognition

The cognitive ability varies from person to person suffering from Alzheimer’s. The change observed is not at all sudden. The ability to think declines gradually, over the period of time.

In vascular dementia, the cognitive abilities decline suddenly, after any health conditions such as stroke or an ischemic attack. The changes remain stable for a period of time. The decline is often referred to as the step-like decline, which means there is a period of symptoms stability in between.

Physical Movements

In Alzheimer’s, the mental or cognitive decline is seen primarily. As the disease progresses to the middle stage, physical activities such as walking or balancing start showing some level of impairment.

The physical movements start a showing decline from the start in vascular dementia. Such as, after a stroke one side of the body may show limited or restricted movement. Both cognition and physical ability decline start suddenly after a disease condition in vascular dementia.

Diagnosis

The difference between Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia also includes the investigations and diagnostic tests

  • There is no diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s disease. It is often diagnosed by ruling out the other causes of dementia. The doctors generally eliminate the other causes of memory loss such as vitamin B12 deficiency, delirium, and other types of dementia.
  • Vascular dementia, on the other hand, can be diagnosed by several tests such as the test for memory, judgment, communication and general cognitive ability. An MRI can also help detect the specific area where the stroke or an ischemic attack has affected the brain.

Preventive Measures

Prevention for Alzheimer’s is still unknown, therefore determining anything to prevent it from occurring.

However, the difference between Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia is that vascular dementia can be prevented, by preventing the condition which leads to its occurrence. Quitting smoking, controlling blood pressure, and following a healthy lifestyle can help in reducing the risk of heart diseases and also vascular dementia.

Knowing the difference between Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia can help in the diagnosis and follow-up treatment.

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