What is Vascular Dementia and Should I Be Worried About It?

People with mild cognitive impairment (pre-dementia) may not have Alzheimer’s disease; in actuality, they may be suffering from vascular dementia. Experts also call this “vascular cognitive impairment.” It is due to chronic reduced blood flow in the brain, eventually resulting in dementia. Remember, just because you can breathe doesn’t mean your brain is getting enough oxygen!

Who is At Risk for Developing Vascular Dementia?

Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s, accounting for up to 40 percent of dementia cases. Risk factors include high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, smoking, alcoholism, and high cholesterol.

What Testing Options Are Available?

Although standard blood and thyroid tests may evaluate vascular cognitive impairment, an MRI is the most useful screen, which shows areas of the brain that have been affected by small strokes.

Look for Warning Signs of Vascular Dementia:

The brain has one of the body’s richest networks of blood vessels and is vulnerable to any hindrances in blood flow, which carries oxygen. Without sufficient oxygen brain cells die and the brain degenerates quickly. Everyday conditions that affect many people can also inhibit oxygenation of the brain and increase the risk of vascular dementia. These include:

  • Anemia
  • Chronic inflammation (such as chronic pain, an autoimmune disease, or other inflammatory disorder)
  • Chronic stress
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • High blood sugar (insulin resistance)
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Smoking
  • Aging

What are the Symptoms of Vascular Dementia?

Long before vascular cognitive impairment or dementia sets in, symptoms that can alert you to poor blood flow and oxygenation include brain fog, becoming easily fatigued, cold hands and feet, erectile dysfunction, and chronic fungal growth on fingernails and toenails.

Preventing and Treating Vascular Dementia Naturally

Some of the best ways to oxygenate the brain are to lower inflammation and stabilize blood sugar. This is done through a diet that is anti-inflammatory, liberal in proteins and healthy fats, low in starchy carbohydrates such as grains and potatoes, and based on unprocessed whole foods. A ketogenic diet that uses coconut oil has also been shown successful in some studies for dementia.

Although lifestyle and dietary factors will help improve oxygenation to the brain and body, thus preventing mild cognitive impairment or dementia, certain herbs have also been shown effective in scientific studies. These include:

  • Ginkgo biloba: Studies have shown this Chinese extract improves function in those with vascular dementia. Gingko biloba improves blood flow to the brain and is full of protective antioxidants that protect neurons. In a German study those taking the extract saw improvements in memory, daily function, and verbal fluency compared to those taking the placebo. In another study participants using Gingko biloba had significant improvement in apathy, anxiety, irritability, depression, and sleep behavior. Studies on Ginkgo biloba also show that it can cut levels of amyloid precursor protein in half after just 16 months of use.[1,2,34]
  • Vinpocetine: This extract of the periwinkle plant improves blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain, protects brain cells during states of low oxygen, and stimulates neuronal function.[5]
  • Butcher’s broom: Butcher’s broom is known for improving circulation to the hands, feet, and brain.[6]

These herbs come in various forms and strengths – tinctures, extracts, drops, etc. Therefore, it is best to follow the manufacturer’s dosing instructions on the label.


[1] A 240-mg once-daily formulation of Ginkgo Biloba extract EGb 761 is effective in both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia: Results from a randomized controlled trial,” Ihl R, Tribanek M, et al, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, July 2008; 4(4): Supplement, T165-T166.

[2] Scripnikov A, Khomenko A, Napryeyenko O; GINDEM-NP Study Group. Effects of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761 on neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia: findings  from a randomised controlled trial. Wien Med Wochenschr. 2007;157(13-14):295-300. PubMed PMID: 17704975.

[3] Domoráková I, Burda J, Mechírová E, Feriková M. Mapping of rat hippocampal neurons with NeuN after ischemia/reperfusion and Ginkgo biloba extract (EGb 761) pretreatment. Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2006 Oct-Nov;26(7-8):1193-204.

[4] Augustin, S., Rimbach, G., Augustin, K. Schliebs, R., Wolffram, S., Cermak, R. Effect of a short and long -term treatment with Gingko biloba extract on amyloid precursor protein levels in a transgenic mouse model relevant to Alzheimer’s disease. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2009 Jan 15: 481 92): 177 -82.

[5] Inazu M, Matsumiya T. Physiological functions of carnitine and carnitine transporters in the central nervous system. [Article in Japanese]. Nihon Shinkei Seishin Yakurigaku Zasshi. 2008 Jun;28(3):113-20.

[6] Bouskela E, Cyrino FZ, Marcelon G. Effects of Ruscus extract on the internal diameter of arterioles and venules of the hamster cheek pouch microcirculation. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 1993 Aug;22(2):221-4. PubMed PMID: 7692161.

Originally published in 2012, this blog has been updated.

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Comments
  • Chealen W.

    Please there is a cure for dementia and no one knows. This is my husband’s story… My husband was a retired force man, he had partial stroke 5 years ago, and then i was still working. His condition got worse and he was hospitalized. After some time of treatment he began to behave abnormal, like someone who has lost memory of event and occurrence. i shared tears the very day i walked to him in the hospital and he could not even recognize me. This is am man that is very playful and highly romantic. Each day i hold him to myself and share tears the more. He was not able to do anything just look at me like a bull dog and do so many abnormal things. Later on doctor brought a recent report and he was diagnosed of dementia this doctor says have no cure that he would die a brainless man. Oh my God i fainted when i heard this. I raised my voice and cry to God to help me from this. So i began to hope and trust God to do miracle. My pastor was a great pillar of encouragement to me. i did all i can to get a cure for him, but none worked out, i spent thousands of USD trying to get a cure for him. But behold a friends doctor came visiting and said to me let’s look if herbal remedy can help him get any better so he gave me your website which is www. drisimhenmhenherbalhome.com there i saw how people testified of the good works of herbs in their life, so i decided to contact the doctor because his contact details was on his website.. The first time i emailed him, i got no reply from him, so i decided to call him on the phone. I called him, and told him what he could do was to laugh and said to me that anything the enemy have planned against my husband must fail, he said to me that he have cured CJD and this is similar to what my husband have. After all, he prepared herbs and sent to me, i have to force my husband to take it because before then he was not taking anything from me to eat anymore. but behold sir it was just like a magic gradually my husband begin to get better, better and today sir i am proud to say my husband is totally cured, He you cured my husband of this deadly dementia disease and now i keep my promise i made to him before the cure that i will let the entire world know about his herbs if my husband is cured. Sir, now i am overwhelmed. God bless you sir. My husband has the plans to travel to see the doctor facially and say a physical thanks to him in his country, and i will accompany him down to his home in his country to also show my gratitude him. God bless him in abundant. If you have same problem or have other health issues and want to contact Doctor Isimhenmhen Anthony, here is his website (http://drisimhenmhenherbalhome.com),.

  • Thank you for your post. This is excellent information. It is amazing and wonderful to visit your site.

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