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What causes dementia?
Dementia is caused by damage to or changes in the brain.
Common causes of dementia are:
- Alzheimer's disease. This is the most common cause of dementia.
- Vascular dementia. This may occur in people who have long-term high blood pressure, severe hardening of the arteries, or several small strokes. Strokes are the second most common cause of dementia.
- Parkinson's disease. Dementia is common in people with this condition.
- Dementia with Lewy bodies. It can cause short-term memory loss.
- Frontotemporal dementia. This is a group of diseases that includes Pick's disease.
- Severe head injury.
Less common causes of dementia include:
- Huntington's disease.
- Leukoencephalopathies. These are diseases that affect the deeper, white-matter brain tissue.
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. This is a rare and fatal condition that destroys brain tissue.
- Some cases of multiple sclerosis (MS) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
- Multiple-system atrophy. This is a group of degenerative brain diseases that affect speech, movement, and autonomic function.
- Infections such as late-stage syphilis. Antibiotics work well to treat syphilis at any stage, but they can't reverse the brain damage already done.
Some disorders that cause dementia can run in families. Doctors often suspect an inherited cause if someone younger than 50 has symptoms of dementia.
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.
Memory Disorders Center
See a Stanford specialist to learn about your treatment options. Visit our clinic to make an appointment.
Stanford Neuroscience Health Center213 Quarry Road
Palo Alto, CA 94304