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Cognitive impairments in cerebrovascular disease

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Cerebrovascular diseases belong to a group of the major causes of cognitive impairments, in the elderly in particular. The paper presents current ideas on the etiology and pathogenesis of vascular cognitive impairments (VCI). The etiological factors of VCI may be divided into genetic, sociodemographic, and common risk factors for vascular and other diseases. The pathogenesis of VCI is multifactorial; cognitive function decrement results from brain damage due to cerebral circulatory disorders. Damage to the deep white matter portions and basal ganglions plays a leading role in the development of cognitive deficit in cerebral circulatory insufficiency, disrupting the connections between the frontal lobes and subcortical structures (a dissociation phenomenon). Regulatory functions are impaired; instability of volitional attention develops; the speed of thinking processes and the performance of professional and everyday skills are suffered, mnestic functions being impaired to a lesser extent. Impairments in other higher cortical functions, such as speech, gnosis, praxis, thinking, generally occur in the later stages of cognitive deficit. The comprehensive approach to examining patients with cognitive dysfunctions, which encompasses physical examination with a mandatory evaluation of neurological symptoms, neuropsychological testing, laboratory studies, instrumental diagnostic methods, and structural and functional neuroimaging techniques, are most justified now. VCI therapy is a challenging task requiring the specific features of different types of cognitive deficit to be analyzed, by providing a rationale for the choice of medications. Therapeutic effectiveness may be enhanced by rational combined multimodal therapy, by keeping in mind a variety of factors for the pathogenesis of VCI.

About the Author

A. Yu. Emelin
Department of Nervous System Diseases, S.M. Kirov Military Medical Academy, Ministry of Defense of Russia, Saint Petersburg, Russia 6, Academician Lebedev St., Saint Petersburg 194044
Russian Federation


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For citation:

Emelin A.Yu. Cognitive impairments in cerebrovascular disease. Neurology, Neuropsychiatry, Psychosomatics. 2014;6(4):11-18. (In Russ.)

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