Can dementia be caused by a stroke?

Find out what the link is between strokes and dementia

In a nutshell

Stroke and dementia are both diseases of the brain and whilst evidence suggests strokes can cause dementia it's still unclear whether dementia can increase the risk of strokes.

3 Facts worth knowing

1. Having a stroke doubles your risk of developing dementia.
2. 30 per cent of people who have a stroke then develop dementia.
3. After a stroke people can develop vascular dementia, mixed dementia or a combination of vascular dementia and Alzheimer's.

What actually happens

A stroke interrupts the blood supply to the brain. Many people who've had a stroke may feel confused and disorientated for weeks or months afterwards, but this is often temporary. However, if the symptoms continue for at least three months after the stroke happened it's more likely that they have also developed dementia.

Could this be YOU (or someone you know?)

If you're worried about someone who doesn't seem themselves after having a stroke, confide in a doctor, because the sooner it's recognised, the better their chances of getting help and of having a good quality of life. The risk factors for stroke and dementia are the same, they include having:

- Diabetes
- Epilepsy
- An irregular heartbeat
- Or if you've had a heart attack or a stroke in the past

Here's the science

For decades, stroke and dementia were treated as entirely separate conditions, but scientists now understand they are often woven together. Research in this area is happening now, as what experts describe as 'the tangled knot of stroke and dementia' begin to untie.

Good to know

You can help yourself. By giving up smoking, eating a healthy diet, taking exercise and cutting down on alcohol, you can reduce your risk of having a stroke and of developing dementia.