Unmasking the Causes of Vascular Dementia

Cause 3. Heart Disease – A Concealed Contributor to Vascular Dementia

Heart Disease – A Concealed Contributor to Vascular Dementia

When assessing the causes of vascular dementia, it’s impossible to overlook the role heart disease plays. While it doesn’t directly cause VaD, heart disease acts as an accelerant, exacerbating other risk factors such as hypertension and diabetes, subsequently increasing the probability of a stroke or small vessel disease—both primary triggers for VaD.

Chronic heart diseases, including coronary artery disease, heart failure, and arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation, can lead to decreased blood flow to the brain. Over time, this blood flow reduction can damage brain cells, gradually precipitating cognitive decline, ultimately leading to vascular dementia. Therefore, rigorous management of heart conditions can considerably reduce the risk of VaD.

The intricate link between heart health and brain health stems from their shared reliance on a healthy vascular system. Our hearts pump blood through blood vessels (the vascular system) to supply every cell in our bodies with the oxygen and nutrients they require.

The brain, with its high oxygen demand, is particularly susceptible to any reduction in this supply. Therefore, anything adversely affecting the heart—like heart disease—can impact brain health.

Heart disease often accompanies, or leads to, other health issues that are risk factors for vascular dementia. For example, coronary artery disease can lead to heart attacks, and heart failure can cause blood to flow back into the lungs.

Both conditions result in less blood reaching the brain, heightening the risk of VaD. Heart arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation can also lead to the formation of blood clots, which can then travel to the brain and cause a stroke, another major cause of VaD. (3)

More on LQ Health:
Popular Articles