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Multi-infarct dementia

Contents of this page:


Central nervous system
Central nervous system

Alternative Names    Return to top


Definition    Return to top

Multi-infarct dementia (MID) is a form of vascular dementia -- damage in mental function caused by strokes.

Causes    Return to top

Multi-infarct dementia (MID) is the most common form of vascular dementia, and the second most common cause of dementia (after Alzheimer's disease) in people over age 65.

An estimated 10 - 20% of all dementias are caused by strokes. MID affects men more often than women. The disorder usually affects people between ages 55 and 75.

"Multi-infarct" means that many areas in the brain have been injured due to a lack of blood.

Risk factors for MID include a history of:

Some research suggests that MID may cause Alzheimer's disease or make it get worse faster. MID may be misdiagnosed as Alzheimer's, or may be found along with Alzheimer's.

Symptoms    Return to top

Exams and Tests    Return to top

Diagnosis rules out other causes of dementia, including dementia due to metabolic causes.

Signs of multi-infarct dementia include:

Tests may include:

Treatment    Return to top

There is no treatment for MID. The goal is to control symptoms and correct risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The health care provider may recommend other treatments.


The diagnosis and treatment environment should be pleasant, comfortable, nonthreatening, and physically safe. Some patients may need to stay in the hospital for a short time. The health care provider will try to find the cause and treat it.

Stopping or changing medications that worsen or cause confusion may improve mental function. Medications that may cause confusion include:

Disorders that may contribute to confusion include:

Treating medical and mental disorders often greatly improves function.

Medications may be needed to control aggressive, agitated, or dangerous behaviors. The health care provider will usually prescribe these medicines in very low doses and adjust the dose as needed. Such medications may include:

Medications used to treat Alzheimer's disease have not been shown to work for MID.

Hearing aids, glasses, or cataract surgery may be needed if the person has sensory problems.


The following may be helpful in caring for a person with MID:

Other care tips:

Seek legal advice early in the course of the disorder. Advance directives, power of attorney, and other legal actions may make it easier to make ethical decisions regarding the care of the person with MID.

Outlook (Prognosis)    Return to top

The disorder gets worse over time.

Death may occur from:

Possible Complications    Return to top

When to Contact a Medical Professional    Return to top

Call your health care provider if symptoms of vascular dementia occur. Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if there is a sudden change in mental status. This is an emergency symptom of stroke.

Treatment that is started within 3 hours after symptoms begin may reduce damage caused by strokes.

Prevention    Return to top

Control conditions that increase the risk of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) by:

Update Date: 2/13/2008

Updated by: Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Departments of Anatomy & Neurological Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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