Causes of Dementia

There are several diseases and conditions that cause dementia. These include:

1. Alzheimer’s Disease:

The most common cause (almost 60%) of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disease that attacks the brain and results in impaired memory, thinking and behavior. During the course of the disease the chemistry and structure of the brain changes, leading to the death of brain cells. It is a natural phenomenon to loose a certain number of nerve cells during aging but this loss occurs much more rapidly in people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.As a result the patient’s brain ceases to function normally.

2. Vascular Dementia or Multi-Infarct Dementia:

The brain relies on a network of vessels to bring it oxygen-bearing blood. If the oxygen supply to the brain fails, brain cells are likely to die and this can cause the symptoms of vascular dementia.

These symptoms can occur either suddenly, following a stroke,or over time through a series of small strokes. Vascular Dementia is not reversible or curable, but recognition of an underlying condition often leads to a specific treatment that may modify the progression of the said dementia.

3. Dementia with Lewy bodies:

This form of dementia gets its name from tiny spherical structures that develop inside nerve cells. Their presence in the brain leads to the degeneration of brain tissue.Memory, concentration and language skills are affected. This form of dementia shares some characteristics with Parkinson’s disease. People with this kind of dementia may be more likely to have hallucinations or spells of distressed or disturbed behaviour. They can also be very sensitive to drugs which are sometimes used to help behaviour problems.

4. Fron to-Temporal Dementia:

(including Pick’s Disease) ” In Fron to-Temporal dementia, damage is usually focused in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. At first, personality and behaviour are more affected than memory. Common behavioural changes include loss of inhibition, lack of interest in environment, loss of empathy for others, over-eating, and obsessive or ritualistic behaviours and interests.

Rarer Causes of Dementia

There are many other rarer diseases that cause dementia, including progressive supranu clear palsy, Korsak off’s syndrome, Binswanger’s disease,HIV and AIDS, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). People with multiple sclerosis,motor neurone disease,  Prion Disease, Parkinson’s disease and Hunting ton’s disease may also be more likely to develop dementia.

Mild Cognitive Impairment:

Some individuals may have difficulty remembering to do things, but a doctor may feel that the symptoms are not severe enough to warrant the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.When this condition occurs, some doctors will use the term‘mild cognitive impairment’ (MCI). Recent research has shown that a small number of individuals with MCI have an increased risk of progressing to Alzheimer’s disease. However, the conversion rate from MCI to Alzheimer’s is small (10-15%), so adiagnos is of MCI does not always mean that the person will go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Risk Factors for Dementia

Primary prevention of dementia could work through the treatment of risk factors thus preventing the occurrence of dementia. Risk factors can be modifiable and non modifiable. In addition to this, there are various protective mechanisms that reduces the risks for dementia.

Non Modifiable Risk Factors:

Age,Female Sex, family history,genetic factor-ApoE4 allele, Depression, Head Trauma, neurode generative disorders, mutation on chromosomes 1, 14, 21,Down’s syndrome, etc.

Modifiable Risk Factors:

Hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, Dyslipidaemia nutritional deficiencies (Bvits),diabetes, hypertension, vascular disease, substance abuse, obesity, diet, exercise.etc.

Protective Factors:

Statins, antioxidant use, anti-inflammatory agents,ApoE2 allele, Higher education, Active mental faculties, ginkobiloba, turmeric,Estrogen use(but the effectiveness of hormone replacement therapy is questionable,Mediterranean Wine(but over use of this can lead to other health problems.

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