Vascular Cognitive Impairment
Vascular cognitive impairment is a decline in thinking abilities caused by disease that damages the brain’s blood vessels. Vascular disease may cause cognitive impairment on its own, and can also contribute to impairments in thinking and behaviour in a person with another brain disease such as Alzheimer’s.
Vascular cognitive impairment refers to all forms of cognitive disorder associated with cerebrovascular disease, regardless of the specific mechanisms involved. It encompasses the full range of cognitive deficits from mild cognitive impairment to dementia. In principle, any of the multiple causes of clinical stroke can cause vascular cognitive impairment.
Vascular brain injury results in loss of structural and functional connectivity and, hence, compromise of functional networks within the brain. Vascular cognitive impairment is common both after stroke and in stroke-free individuals presenting to dementia clinics, and vascular pathology frequently coexists with neurodegenerative pathology, resulting in mixed forms of mild cognitive impairment or dementia.
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