Vascular dementia is estimated to affect around 150,000 people in the UK.
Symptoms can start suddenly or come on slowly over time – either way, vascular dementia tends to get worse over time.
This can happen in sudden stages with periods in between where the symptoms don’t change much, but it’s difficult to predict when this will happen.
Help at home will usually be needed, and for many people, care in a nursing home will be required.
So what is the life expectancy?
According to the NHS, although treatment can help, vascular dementia can significantly shorten life expectancy.
But the health body “But this is highly variable and many people live for a number of years with the condition or die form some other cause.”
So how can you reduce your risk of dementia?
Alzheimer’s Society outlines a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of developing the neurodegenerative disease.
Keep physically active
At least 30 minutes, five times a week is the recommended.
Alzheimer’s Society says: “You’ll need to be active enough to raise your heart rate and get a bit out of breath. You could walk, cycle, swim or join an exercise or dance group. Regular physical exercise in middle-aged or older adults reduces the risk of developing dementia. It’s also good for your heart and mental wellbeing. Exercise like this brings health benefits even if you’re not losing weight.”
If you already do this, try and stop.
Alzheimer’s Society says: “By smoking you are at a greater risk of developing dementia and harming your lungs, heart and circulation. If you want to stop smoking, talk to your GP.”
Eat a healthy balanced diet
A balanced diet has a number of health benefits including reducing your risk of dementia and heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Alzheimer’s Society says: “A healthy diet has a high proportion of oily fish, fruit, vegetables, unrefined cereals and olive oil, and low levels of red meat and sugar.
“Try to cut down on saturated fat (e.g cakes, biscuits, most cheeses) and limit sugary treats. Keep an eye on your salt intake too, because salt raises your blood pressure and risk of stroke. Read food labels to see what’s in them and seek out healthier options.”
Keep your alcohol within recommended limits
The maximum is 14 units each week for men and women, spread over three or more days. This is the equivalent of four or five large glasses of wine, or seven pints of beer or lager with a lower alcohol content.
Alzheimer’s Society says: “Regularly exceeding these weekly limits increases your dementia risk. If you find yourself struggling to cut down what you drink, talk to your GP about what support is available.”
Take control of your health
If you’re invited for a regular mid-life health check at the doctor’s always go.
Alzheimer’s Society says: “It’s like an ‘MOT’ for your body and will include a check of your blood pressure, weight and maybe cholesterol level. These are linked to dementia and conditions that are strong risk factors for dementia (heart disease, stroke and diabetes).”
Keeping to a healthy weight and giving your brain a daily workout can also help prevent dementia.
What are the early signs of dementia?