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Vascular Cognitive Impairment

What is vascular cognitive impairment?

Vascular Cognitive Impairment (VCI) is a central nervous system condition presenting with memory, thinking, and other deficits which are caused by vascular problems, such as a stroke, bleed, and clinically silent ischemic events. 

What are the symptoms of vascular cognitive impairment?

VCI does not have a specific symptom that is specific to the disease. VCI can present with any combination of thinking and memory problems that affect daily functioning. Sometimes these symptoms might be associated with motor or sensory deficit related to prior stroke.

What are the risk factors for developing VCI? 

The risk factors for VCI are the same as those that cause a stroke or heart attack. These risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol, smoking and others. There are very rare genetic forms of vascular cognitive impairment. 

How is VCI diagnosed?

Someone with suspected VCI should be evaluated using a thorough examination and memory testing. The history of prior stroke is a strong predictor of memory problems being related to VCI. Frequently, brain imaging is necessary to diagnose VCI.

Can VCI be prevented?

Available evidence suggests that the best measure to be taken to prevent developing VCI is timely treatment of known cardiovascular risk factors: quit smoking, control elevated blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and treat diabetes. Staying physically active is a very important preventive measure as well. A Mediterranean diet may also be of benefit. 

What treatments are available for VCI?

There are several measures that need to be taken while trying to help people with VCI. First, cardiovascular risk factors should be controlled well in order to minimize the risk of VCI progression. Some medications may be beneficial for patients with VCI. It is still controversial whether aspirin is helpful in VCI without evidence of discrete stroke. 

Where can I get evaluated for vascular cognitive impairment?

Capital Institute for Neurosciences provides an array of services needed for establishing diagnosing and treating vascular cognitive impairment. This includes a team evaluation by experienced physicians and neuropsychologists. Social workers and therapists are also available if needed. 

The information provided on these educational pages is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. And, if experiencing a medical emergency call 9-1-1. 

Last updated 10/2013