Multi-Infarct Dementia

Multi-Infarct Dementia, also known as MID, is a form of dementia that is caused by multiple strokes. A person with MID suffers from loss of brain function which affects their memory, thinking, language, judgment and behavior. MID most often affects men more times than women and it is a common cause of memory loss in the elderly people between the ages of 55 and 75.

Causes of Multi-Infarct Dementia

MID is caused by a series of strokes, which disrupt blood flow to the brain. The disruption of blood flow leads to damaged brain tissue. Often times these strokes are referred to as “silent strokes” because they may occur without noticeable symptoms. One who has a silent stroke may not even realize that it is happening, but it will be apparent over time, as more areas of the brain will become damaged and symptoms will begin to appear.

Signs of Multi-Infarct Dementia

  • Confusion
  • Problems with short-term memory
  • Wandering/getting lost is familiar places
  • Walking with shuffling steps
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Having problems counting money

Diagnosis and Prognosis

MID can be diagnosed by an MRI or CT of the brain, along with a neurological exam. Symptoms, however, are similar to Alzheimer’s disease, so it can sometimes be difficult for a doctor to make a firm diagnosis. The prognosis for people with MID is generally poor. The symptoms may appear suddenly and become worse after each small stroke. Sometimes it appears that people with MID appear to improve for a short period of time, but then decline after having more silent strokes. The disorder generally takes a downward course with intermittent periods of rapid deterioration. Death may occur from stroke, heart disease, pneumonia or other infection.

Help and Treatment

There currently is no treatment that will turn back brain damage caused by strokes. It is important anyone who has MID to stay healthy and control the symptoms so that they will not have more strokes in the future. People with MID should avoid fatty foods and keep a low-fat diet. Keeping a healthy blood pressure, having a good level of cholesterol and limiting alcohol are also steps people should follow in order to lead a healthy life.

Doctors may prescribe MID patients to take aspirin or Plavix, which will help prevent blood clots from forming in the arteries. The goals of treatment for someone with dementia is to manage his or her behavior problems, confusion, sleep problems and agitation. Sometimes doctors will prescribe medications to control aggressive or dangerous behavior. These medications include antipsychotics and serotonin-affecting drugs, and are usually given in low doses. The best thing you can do if you know someone who has MID is to help manage the symptoms by having he or she maintain a healthy lifestyle as well as being supportive.

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