Diagnosing vascular dementia 

Confirming a diagnosis of vascular dementia can be difficult, particularly when the condition is in its early stages. This is because many of the symptoms of dementia can also be caused by other conditions.

However, it's important to get a diagnosis as early as possible because treatment and lifestyle changes may slow down or stop the progression of the condition.

Read more about treating vascular dementia.

For vascular dementia to be diagnosed correctly, you will have a number of tests and assessments, including:

  • an assessment of your symptoms and mental abilities, including how quickly your symptoms have developed
  • a full medical history, including whether you have a history of conditions related to vascular dementia, such as strokes or high blood pressure
  • a physical examination
  • a review of the medication you are taking in relation to your symptoms
  • a range of tests, including blood tests, to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms, such as a vitamin B12 deficiency
  • brain scans, such as a computerised tomography (CT) scan, which can check for signs of a stroke or brain tumour, or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, which can detect any shrinking of the brain
  • a heart rhythm test called an electrocardiogram (ECG)

Some of these tests can be carried out by your GP. Some will be carried out by other specialists, such as a neurologist (an expert in treating conditions that affect the brain and nervous system), an elderly care physician, or a psychiatrist with experience of treating dementia.

Page last reviewed: 22/01/2015

Next review due: 22/01/2017