Indexed on: 29 Nov '07Published on: 29 Nov '07Published in: Cerebrovascular diseases (Basel, Switzerland)
Vascular cognitive impairment, the recent modification of the terminology related to vascular burden of the brain, reflects the all-encompassing effects of vascular disease or lesions on cognition. It incorporates the complex interactions between vascular aetiologies, risk factors and cellular changes within the brain and cognition. The concept covers the frequent poststroke cognitive impairment and dementia, as well as cerebrovascular disease (CVD) as the second most common factor related to dementia. CVD as well as vascular risk factors including arterial hypertension, history of high cholesterol, diabetes or forms of heart disease are independently associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. Traditional vascular risk factors and stroke are also independent factors for the clinical presentation of Alzheimer's disease (AD). In addition to these vascular factors, CVD/strokes, infarcts and white-matter lesions may trigger and modify the progression of AD as the most common cause of neurodegenerative dementia. The main subtypes of previously defined vascular dementia (VaD) include the cortical VaD or multi-infarct dementia also referred as poststroke VaD, subcortical ischaemic vascular disease and dementia or small-vessel dementia and strategic-infarct dementia. Whilst CVD is preventable and treatable, it is clearly a major factor in the prevalence of cognitive impairment in the elderly worldwide.