Vascular dementia prevention: A risk factor analysis
Brain injury from ischemic or hemorrhagic cerebrovascular disease (CVD) produces decline in cognitive functions and vascular dementia (VaD). Likewise, CVD may cause VaD from hypoperfusion of susceptible brain areas. CVD may also worsen degenerative dementias such as Alzheimer's disease. Significant advances have been made in the identification and control of risk factors for stroke and cardiovascular disease. The main risk factors for VaD include age, hypertension and absence of antihypertensive medication, diabetes, cigarette smoking, history of cardiovascular disease (coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, peripheral vascular disease), atrial fibrillation, left ventricular hypertrophy, hyperhomocysteinemia, orthostatic hypotension, cardiac arrhythmias, hyperfibrinogenemia, and sleep apnea. Recently identified risk factors include chronic infection and elevation of C-reactive protein, particularly in patients with diabetes. Evidence from controlled clinical trials strongly suggests that control of vascular risk factors, in particular hypertension, could prevent the development of dementia.