Senior Cardiac Nurse, British Heart Foundation
Stroke survivors are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with dementia than the general UK population, highlighting an urgent need for further research.
Imagine the person you love slowly starts to forget things. At first, it might be small, like their housekeys or their shopping list. But then, they forget their address and, in some instances, might even forget who you are. This is the cruel reality of vascular dementia.
Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia and occurs when there’s a problem with the blood supply to an area of your brain. The cells in this affected area of your brain don’t get enough oxygen or nutrients and they begin to die.
Vascular dementia often occurs after a stroke. In fact, stroke survivors are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with dementia than the general UK population, according to our analysis.
Emerging scale of conditions
In total, an estimated 8.6% of stroke survivors are living with dementia in the UK, that’s around 120,000 people. Of those who develop dementia following a stroke, around three quarters are diagnosed with vascular dementia.
Over the last decade, the number of people who have had a stroke and who are now living with vascular dementia in the UK has nearly doubled.
Although our understanding of recording dementia is improving, more research is urgently needed to find new ways to prevent and treat the disease.
In total, an estimated 8.6% of stroke survivors are living with dementia in the UK, that’s around 120,000 people.
Research is more important than ever
Research has led to significant progress in treating heart attacks and stroke, but treatments for dementia remain limited. Although the BHF is funding nearly £11 million of research into vascular dementia, the area has largely been neglected in the past.
Professor Joanna Wardlaw from the University of Edinburgh is leading a clinical trial into potential treatments for a type of stroke, called lacunar stroke, which is caused by a blood vessel problem that may also cause up to half of all dementias. It’s one of only five trials into vascular dementia worldwide.
We still have a long way to go to understanding vascular dementia. Funding research could prove crucial in finding new ways to prevent and treat vascular dementia and provide hope for the thousands of people living with the heartbreaking condition.