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Vascular dementia research

People with a history of heart diseases are twice as likely to be affected by vascular dementia. That's why our research starts with your heart, but doesn't stop there. 

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What is vascular dementia and what causes it?

Dementia is an umbrella term that describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills.

There are different types, but vascular dementia is caused by reduced blood supply to your brain, which damages or kills brain cells, and it can occur following a stroke. There is currently no treatment. But if we can learn as much about vascular dementia as we have about heart diseases in the last few decades, there is reason to hope for new ways to prevent and treat it.

When Ellen was diagnosed with vascular dementia, it not only changed her life, but also the lives of her family. As Ellen’s behaviour and mobility started to deteriorate, her daughter Jayne dedicated herself to making sure Ellen had the best possible care.

There is no cure, no treatments, for dementia. It's changed mum's personality so much. It's heartbreaking to see her decline. 
Jayne, Ellen's daughter

What research are we funding into vascular dementia?

We fund research into identifying people who are more at risk of vascular dementia, who have been diagnosed with other heart and circulatory diseases. Because knowing who could be more at risk means that they can be given advice on how to reduce those risks. 

We also fund research to help better understand vascular dementia, so in the future we can develop ways to prevent, treat and cure it. 

Research to spot silent rhythm disorders

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common type of irregular heart rhythm. It can cause a blood clot in your heart which is then pumped to your brain and may cause a stroke. And as vascular dementia often develops after a stroke, people with AF are at a higher risk.

Short episodes of AF tend to go unnoticed but could cause damage to the brain. Professor Barbara Casadei at the University of Oxford is leading a project to find out whether these episodes do affect brain function by monitoring the heart rhythms of 20,000 people who will be involved for life. She’s using a skin patch recorder and MRI scans to conduct her research and the end goal is to identify at-risk patients, who can then receive appropriate treatment.

By finding out who is at risk earlier, we could prevent countless strokes and slow people’s path to dementia. 

This project is one of hundreds we fund every year to protect the people you love from heart and circulatory conditions.

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