Dementia is a permanent loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases. It affects memory, thinking, language, judgment, and behavior.
Multi-infarct dementia is caused by a series of small strokes. Multi-infarct dementia is also called vascular dementia.
Multi-infarct dementia (MID) is the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer disease in people over age 65. MID usually affects people between ages 55 and 75. More men than women have MID.
MID is caused by a series of small strokes.
Risk factors for MID include:
Symptoms of dementia may also be caused by other types of disorders of the brain One such disorder is Alzheimer disease. Symptoms of Alzheimer disease can be similar to those of MID. MID and Alzheimer disease are the most common causes of dementia, and may occur together
Symptoms of MID may develop gradually or may progress after each small stroke.
Symptoms may begin suddenly after each stroke. Some people with MID may improve for short periods, and then decline after having more silent strokes.
Early symptoms of dementia can include:
As dementia worsens, symptoms are more obvious and the ability to take care of oneself declines. Symptoms may include:
Nervous system (neurologic) problems that occur with a stroke may also be present.
Tests may be ordered to help determine whether other medical problems could be causing dementia or making it worse, such as:
Other tests may be done to find out what parts of thinking have been affected and to guide other tests.
Tests that can show evidence of previous strokes in the brain may include:
There is no treatment to turn back damage to the brain caused by small strokes.
An important goal is to control symptoms and correct risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking, and high cholesterol to prevent future strokes:
The goals of helping someone with dementia in the home are to:
Medicines may be needed to control aggressive, agitated, or dangerous behaviors.
Medicines used to treat Alzheimer disease have not been shown to work for MID.
Hearing aids, glasses, or cataract surgery may be needed if the person has problems involving these senses.
Some improvement may occur for short periods, but the disorder will generally get worse over time.
Complications include the following:
Call the health care provider if symptoms of multi-infarct dementia occur. Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if there is a sudden change in mental status. This is an emergency symptom of stroke.
Control conditions that increase the risk of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) by:
MID; Dementia - vascular; Dementia - poststroke; Vascular dementia
Apostolova LG, DeKosky ST, Cummings JL. Dementias. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 66.
Moorhouse PA, Rockwood K. Vascular cognitive impairment. In: Fillit HM, Rockwood K, Woodhouse K, eds. Brocklehurst's Textbook of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa; 2010:chap 55.
Updated by: Joseph V. Campellone, M.D., Division of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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