Written by Gurleen Khaira
With 50 million people around the world currently living with dementia, it is likely that most of us have had someone close to us with the condition. Dementia is the name given to the condition when neurons in the brain become damaged and are no longer able to communicate with each other. The brain is split into different regions, each responsible for a different task, so depending on the region impacted, dementia can disrupt a range of activities like speech, movement, and memory. With the condition being so prevalent, many question the cause behind it. So, here we have highlighted the three most common causes of dementia.
A term often confused with dementia, Alzheimer’s is actually a cause of the condition. It is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for between 60-80% of dementia cases. Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative cause of dementia. It is the product of a build-up of beta-amyloid proteins in neurons. These proteins act like plaques and decrease the number of neurons and neural connections in the brain. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s cannot be recognized immediately since the condition develops over time and can actually take 10-20 years before symptoms begin to show. Thus, the early stages of dementia often go unnoticed.
Cardiovascular disease, or poor heart health, is the cause behind vascular dementia. When a person has cardiovascular disease, blood vessels around the body often become narrowed or blocked. Now, if this happens to the blood vessels in the brain, then less blood will reach brain cells. Blood is responsible for carrying oxygen to cells, so if the brain cells receive less oxygen, they are unable to perform their role in the brain. Moreover, a stroke can also cause vascular dementia. People with cardiovascular disease often have blood clots that block the blood from flowing to certain regions of the body. If this occurs in the brain, then the supply of oxygenated blood is completely cut off to the region of the brain impacted. In this case, the patient is said to suffer from a stroke. Unfortunately, vascular dementia affects 150,000 people in the UK, and depending on the region of the brain affected, it can cause difficulties in concentration, mood, personality, and balance. Clearly, heart health can have a huge impact on your brain health. In fact, we thought it was so important that we dedicated a whole blog post to the topic.
This is a type of dementia caused by a buildup of proteins in the front and side regions of the brain. These regions of the brain are responsible for behavior, language, and planning and organization. Unlike other forms of dementia, frontotemporal dementia mostly impacts a younger range of people, aged between 45-65. Whilst all the causes of the condition are not known, research has found a gene that can be passed down through generations, as one cause. This means that people with a family history of the condition are more likely to get the disease, with 1 in 3 cases having a family history with the condition.
How can MindMate help?
Mindmate offers fun brain training games, workouts, and healthy recipes which can help you maintain a healthy heart and brain, and therefore decrease your chances of vascular dementia. For people with early-stage dementia or Alzheimer’s, we provide your own personal “memory trainer” with free brain training games that can stimulate brain activity and a digital diary to help you keep track of your daily routine.