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Vascular dementia (VaD) is caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain. Blood flow to a certain part of the brain may be decreased or interrupted by:
Bleeding because of a ruptured blood vessel
Damage to a blood vessel from atherosclerosis, infection, or other causes, such as an autoimmune disorder
The effect of decreased or no blood flow depends on the size and location of the area affected. If a very small area in a part of the brain that controls memory is affected, for example, you may experience "forgetfulness" that doesn't necessarily change your ability to carry on normal activities. If a larger area is affected, you may have difficulty thinking clearly or solving problems, or greater memory problems that do change your ability to function normally.
CADASIL (cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with sub-cortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy) is a genetic disorder that generally leads to dementia of the vascular type. One parent with the gene for CADASIL passes it on to a child, which makes it an autosomal-dominant inheritance disorder. It affects the blood vessels in the white matter of the brain. Symptoms, such as migraine headaches, seizures, and severe depression, generally begin when a person is in his or her mid-30s; however, symptoms may not appear until later in life.