Dementia can lead to problems in memory, communication, and concentration. Although the term ‘dementia’ has been associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, dementia can occur even by an injury or disease, such as stroke. Conventional treatments can reduce the rate of disease progression or neurodegeneration but lack the potential for damage repair. With advanced technology, stem cell therapy is currently being explored as a promising treatment for damage repair in stroke and dementia cases.
How are Stroke and Vascular Dementia Connected?
Up to 20% of people with dementia in the UK have vascular dementia. This disorder occurs when the blood supply to parts of your brain gets limited. This can occur due to a stroke. A stroke is a condition where a blood vessel ruptures in the brain or there is a blockage in the blood supply. Due to limited blood supply, brain cells weaken and stop working slowly, leading to dementia symptoms. Many studies around the world have found a significant correlation between these disorders, and a 2021 study has recently found applications of stem cells in treating stroke and dementia.
Signs of Vascular Dementia Due to Stroke
The signs of vascular dementia can vary in patients and in the case of stroke-related dementia, symptoms develop suddenly. Early cognitive dementia symptoms include:
- Planning and management problems.
- Difficulty in following directions or instructions.
- Slow or confused feelings.
- Problems with focus and concentration.
- Mild memory loss.
- Problems with speech.
- Mood changes and anxiety issues.
What are the treatments for vascular dementia?
Although medications for vascular dementia are not very common or easily available, medication plans often include cholinesterase. Cholinesterase boosts chemical signals in the brain to improve memory and judgment. The side effects often include nausea, muscle cramps, and vomiting. Aside from these medications, the best management plan for stroke-related dementia is a changed lifestyle habit. Lifestyle changes and diet improvements prevent future stroke chances and help in improving post-stroke physical conditions. Aside from medication and lifestyle changes, physiotherapy and other rehabilitation therapies also help in improving post-stroke conditions, thus preventing the progress of dementia in stroke patients.
Stem Cell Therapy for Dementia and Stroke
As discussed before, conventional medication for stroke causes side effects, whereas management modules like lifestyle changes and rehabilitation only focus on improving living conditions to prevent further stroke occurrence. Therefore, there is a dire need for utilizing regenerative therapies like stem cell therapy to heal the damage caused by stroke and prevent dementia progress. Stem cells have the potential to repair damaged tissues and blood vessels, besides regulating the immune system to limit inflammation caused by stroke. This potential of repair and rejuvenation makes stem cells a promising therapeutic candidate in case of stroke and stroke-related vascular dementia. Although stem cell treatment is an experimental therapy, patients have taken the leap seeking positive improvements and several cases have witnessed better motor movements, reduced anxiety, and improved speech.