Harvard Heart Letter

Blood vessel disease linked to dementia

Strategies that protect blood vessels also fight aging-related memory loss.

Like a slow, invisible thief, Alzheimer's disease steals memory and so much more. Its partner in crime, vascular dementia, has long lurked in the shadows. A scientific statement from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association puts the spotlight on vascular dementia and offers recommendations for preventing it.

The word "dementia" means deprived of mind. It's a catchall term that covers the memory loss, confusion, changes in personality, and dwindling ability to perform everyday activities that affect millions of older people. One main cause of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, a progressive accumulation of tangles and clumps of protein in and around brain cells. These tangles and clumps make it difficult for brain cells to communicate with one another, and can eventually kill them.

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