Dementia and Cerebrovascular Disease — Introduction

Conditions such as stroke and its outcomes, such as confusion

This theme has a strong track record of success in preventing diseases of the blood vessels that can lead to conditions such as stroke or dementia. We are now doing further work aimed at finding out how best to identify older people at risk of these conditions, and how to prevent and treat them.

We can study large numbers of very different types of patients, using world-class techniques in imaging – “seeing” into the brain and blood vessels – where the underlying problems may be. We also have a large collection of brains donated by people for research after their death, which are used to better understand the changes that occur with these conditions.

The four main areas of work are:

1. Improving early recognition of people at risk of stroke or dementia and getting better at predicting who these people are likely to be

2. Testing ways to improve prevention of dementia and stroke in the short term, with a particular emphasis on using existing methods more effectively

3. Investigating the way in which other illnesses or conditions may reduce blood flow to and within the brain and so make stroke or dementia worse or more likely to happen

4. Using new tests to study genes – the “codes” that tell the body how to function – and look at the way in which genes linked to dementia and stroke are also linked to the extent of damage in the brains of those affected.

Several of the studies within the theme involve researchers working closely with patients in order to measure and control blood pressure and other risk factors for stroke and dementia. This close participation of patients in research is considered to be crucial to the development of treatments and strategies that will work in routine clinical practice.