People with vascular dementia can have similar symptoms to Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. These may include memory loss, confusion and problems with reasoning or communication. But there can also be more specific symptoms.

Symptoms in post-stroke dementia might occur immediately or soon after a stroke event; people are sometimes described as having a “stepwise” decline in their overall functioning.

Symptoms caused by blood vessel diseases often develop in a more gradual way, this means the symptoms will get worse over time. The speed of change can vary over time and from person to person.

Sue Strachan

The first sign something was wrong was when I had a TGA (transient global amnesia) episode and lost my memory of a whole day. Doctors said I would probably recover and should get normal function back. After several months, it became clear that something wasn’t right. I was struggling to find words, repeating myself constantly and my concentration was just out of the window.

- Sue, who lives with vascular dementia

Vascular dementia symptoms may include:

  • People may have difficulty performing tasks that used to be easy, learning new information and following instructions. Difficulty with paying attention, reading and writing may also occur.
  • Struggling to find the right words or using wrong words, slurring speech or difficulty following conversations.
  • Changes in personality, behaviour and mood: People may become depressed, agitated or angry. They may lose interest in things or people around them or become more emotional.
  • Movement problems and stability: Unsteadiness or changes in the way a person walks, or weakness on one side of the body which can be a symptom of post-stroke vascular dementia.

In the later stages of dementia, the condition affects most aspects of everyday life. This means that over time people need more help and support with eating, dressing, washing, using the toilet and walking.

Rahul Khona

My dad was retired and my mum noticed his memory was slipping a bit. He would say ‘something is wrong with me’ as he also realised his memory wasn’t great. Following his diagnosis, his memory worsened and it also affected his speech - he stuttered sometimes.

- Rahul, whose dad was diagnosed with vascular dementia

Sometimes the blood vessel and brain cell damage can cause memory and thinking problems that are mild and are therefore not diagnosed as dementia. This is sometimes called vascular mild cognitive impairment.

What is vascular dementia?

This booklet aims to help you understand more about vascular dementia. It gives an overview of the causes, symptoms and treatments.

Sue Strachan - Photo credit Alex Wallace
RS1317_Alex_Wallace_Photography_ARUK_Rebrand_Des and Valli_April 2023 (64) (1)

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This information was updated in December 2023 and is due to be reviewed in December 2025. It was written by Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Information Services team with input from lay and expert reviewers. Please get in touch if you’d like a version with references or in a different format.

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