Dec. 20 -- FRIDAY, Dec. 19 (HealthDay News) -- A common form of dementia often mistaken for Alzheimer's can be prevented with good health habits, a new report says.
Vascular cognitive impairment (VCI), the second most common cause of dementia, occurs in up to 4 percent of Americans over age 65 and up to 20 percent of those with some form of dementia. Brain damage from multiple small strokes, which can occur from narrowing or blocked arteries in the brain, are often the cause of VCI.
An overview of the disease, published in the December issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource, notes that people can greatly reduce their risk of developing the disease by lowering their blood pressure, quitting smoking, and keeping diabetes and cholesterol levels under control.
VCI shares Alzheimer's symptoms such as confusion, agitation, language and memory problems, and unsteady gait and falls. However, the first symptom of VCI usually is the declining ability to organize thoughts or actions. In Alzheimer's, memory problems are usually the first sign of the condition.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about dementia.
SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, December 2008