Around 78% of adults 80 years or older diagnosed with dementia have mixed dementia, making it the most common form of dementia among the elderly. Mixed dementia is a combination of two or more neurodegenerative disorders present in the brain simultaneously. Alzheimer’s is the neurodegenerative disorder that is most prevalent in mixed dementia cases. Along with Alzheimer’s, signs of vascular dementia, and dementia with lewy bodies are also present in individuals dealing with mixed dementia. Unfortunately, as of right now, doctors are unable to diagnose mixed dementia accurately. Most often, individuals dealing with mixed dementia are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and receive treatment accordingly. It is not until an autopsy is conducted that signs of mixed dementia begin to show.
Studies by the National Institute on Aging reveal that vascular disease risk factors contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s and other types of neurodegenerative disorders. It’s vital to control these risk factors to ensure that vascular changes do not occur in the brain (leading to mixed dementia).
High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure has no symptoms. You must check your blood pressure regularly ( by visiting your doctor or investing in a blood pressure monitor) to ensure that your blood pressure is more than 90/60 and less than 120/80. If blood pressure isn’t regulated it can cause severe damage to your kidneys and the brain.
High Cholesterol: There are two types of cholesterol: Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) and High-density lipoprotein cholesterol(HDL). Generally, you want a higher concentration of HDL in the body and a lower concentration of LDL. 100 to 129 mg/dL of LDL and 60mg/dL and higher of HDL is considered healthy for the body according to WebMD. If the levels of LDL increase, it can cause blockage of the arteries and eventually atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis: A buildup of plaque (cholesterol and fats) in blood vessels that transport nutrients to the rest of the body from the heart. This plaque can lead to blood clots in the brain (low blood supply). This can cause an ischemic stroke, contributing to permanent damage to tissue and cognitive abilities in the brain.
To decrease the chances of developing mixed dementia, it is important to pay attention to the risk factors. The following lifestyle changes need to be implemented:
Diet: Food containing high concentrations of sodium raises blood pressure. Fried food(burgers, pizza, french fries), salty snacks (chips, crackers, pretzels), condiments (salad dressing, soy sauce), and cheese and dairy (ice cream, cheesecake) should be eaten in moderation.
Exercise: Inadequate exercise leads to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It is recommended that adults over the age of 65 exercise for 30 minutes every day/five days a week to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It’s best to do aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, or dancing.
There currently isn’t a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved treatment for mixed dementia. As of right now, doctors diagnose the patient with the neurodegenerative disorder that they see the most symptoms for and prescribe treatment accordingly.