The Link Between Stroke & Dementia

Kenneth Knowles, MD
Medically reviewed by Kenneth Knowles, MDJuly 21st, 2020
elderly woman looking out the window

Strokes are a leading cause of death within the United States, killing approximately 140,000 Americans each year and accounting for about one out of every 20 deaths. Many people are familiar with the signs of a stroke, which include numbness and weakness (often affecting just one side of the body), headache, confusion, and difficulty seeing and walking. But did you know that strokes can cause dementia? It’s true—having a stroke can lead to the development of vascular dementia, a type of dementia associated with obstructed blood flow to the brain.

During a stroke, one of two things happens: either something (usually a blood clot) blocks blood flow to the brain (an ischemic stroke), or a blood vessel bursts within the brain (a hemorrhagic stroke). If the brain can’t get the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function properly, brain tissue will begin dying, which can result in problems with memory, reasoning, judgment, planning, and other processes. It’s important to remember that strokes don’t always cause vascular dementia to develop—the outcome will depend on the location and severity of the stroke.


Symptoms of Vascular Dementia

The symptoms of vascular dementia will vary depending on where the obstruction of blood flow has occurred, but often include:

  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Delayed response times
  • Aphasia (language impairment)
  • Hallucinations
  • Difficulty concentrating and paying attention
  • Difficulty organizing thoughts and actions
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • A lack of motivation
  • Aggressive or otherwise inappropriate behavior
  • Balance issues
  • An unsteady gait
  • Urinary incontinence or a sudden or frequent need to urinate

In many instances, when someone with vascular dementia is presented with a problem, he or she will have a hard time analyzing the circumstances, creating a plan of action, and communicating that plan to other individuals.

Other Causes of Vascular Dementia

In addition to strokes, vascular dementia can result from a number of other conditions that narrow or damage blood vessels within the brain, including:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Brain hemorrhage
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol

Vascular Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s Disease

Oftentimes, when someone hears the word “dementia,” they think of the type of dementia that results from Alzheimer’s disease. Vascular dementia is different from Alzheimer’s, although many people experience both types simultaneously. While vascular dementia is caused by impaired blood flow to the brain, Alzheimer’s is believed to be caused by improperly functioning proteins within the brain. Another important distinction between the two types of dementia is the rate of progression—the symptoms of vascular dementia usually tend to appear more suddenly than the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

The Team to Choose for In-Home Care

Having to leave the house and travel to an emergency room or medical provider’s office can be especially challenging for individuals who have experienced a stroke. In addition to the symptoms of vascular dementia listed above, strokes can cause a number of other long-term issues like paralysis and spasticity (muscle stiffness), which can make seeking medical treatment outside the home particularly difficult.

Fortunately, if you’re living with the effects of a stroke or with the symptoms of dementia, you can turn to DispatchHealth for exceptional at-home care. As a leading provider of mobile healthcare services, we’re pleased to offer treatment for a wide array of illnesses and injuries—in fact, we can treat almost everything that an ER can, and all from the comfort of your own home. What’s more, our services cost about the same as an urgent care clinic visit and a mere fraction of what you could expect to pay for an ER visit, and we accept most major insurance plans (including Medicare and Medicaid), with most patients paying about $5 to $50 after insurance. And for patients who don’t have insurance at the moment, we also offer a $375 flat rate.


Contact DispatchHealth today to request the in-home care you deserve—you can do so by calling us, using our mobile app, or visiting our website. Once you’ve requested service, our team will arrive at your home within approximately one to two hours, and then will proceed with their evaluation and with administering any necessary treatments. We usually spend about 45 minutes with each of our patients, and we’ll make sure to answer any questions you may have before the end of our visit.


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

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