Stroke-Related Dementia (cont.)
Kannayiram Alagiakrishnan, MD
Nicholas Y Lorenzo, MD
Mary L Windle, PharmD
Helmi L Lutsep, MD
IN THIS ARTICLE
Exams and Tests
Many different conditions can cause dementia symptoms. Your health care provider has the difficult task of finding the cause of your symptoms. This is very important, because some causes of dementia are reversible with treatment while others are not.
The process of narrowing down the possibilities to reach your diagnosis is complicated. Your health care provider will gather information from several different sources. At any time in the process, he or she may consult an expert in dementia (geriatrician, neurologist, psychiatrist).
The first step in the evaluation is the medical interview. You will be asked questions about your symptoms and when they appeared, about medical problems now and in the past, about medications you have taken now and in the past, about family medical problems, and about your habits and lifestyle. A physical examination will look for physical disabilities and signs of underlying conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart and blood vessel disease, and previous strokes. It will also include a mental status examination. This involves following simple directions and answering questions that check orientation, attention, language, and memory. Neuropsychological testing may be done to identify the extent of dementia.
Neuropsychological testing is a detailed cognitive assessment that helps to pinpoint and document a person's cognitive problems and strengths. Results vary with the site and severity of vascular disease in the brain.
These include blood tests to rule out infections, blood disorders, chemical abnormalities, hormonal disorders, and liver or kidney problems that could cause or mimic dementia symptoms. Lab tests can also pinpoint conditions such as diabetes and certain vascular disorders that could underlie dementia.
Brain scans are very helpful in detecting stroke. They can also rule out certain other conditions that cause dementia.
Other tests may be done to look for conditions that commonly cause stroke and vascular disease.
Tests may also be done to rule out other causes of dementia.
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