Experiencing multiple ministrokes may lead to multi-infarct dementia, the second most common type of dementia in people 60 years of age and older.

Multi-infarct dementia (MID) is a type of vascular dementia, which is progressive memory loss after a stroke.

An infarct is brain tissue that’s destroyed due to an obstruction of blood flow. MID can develop as a result of brain cell damage from multiple small strokes.

While a healthy lifestyle and medications may help reduce your risk for strokes, there’s no cure for MID. Its symptoms may improve but then get worse with additional strokes.

After Alzheimer’s disease, MID is the second most common cause of dementia in older adults. It most often develops in people from 60 to 75 years of age. MID affects slightly more men than women.

Having multiple ministrokes (which are also called transient ischemic attacks) may eventually lead to MID, the most common type of vascular dementia.

During a stroke, blood flow to areas of your brain is interrupted because of a ruptured or blocked artery. The resulting lack of oxygen and nutrients can quickly damage your brain cells and tissue.

The main risk factor for developing MID is high blood pressure (hypertension), which may weaken and damage your blood vessels. This makes it easier for an artery to rupture or for a blood clot to block it.

Other significant risk factors for MID include:

The ministrokes that usually cause MID may have no symptoms.

A ministroke may last from just a few minutes to 24 hours.

The noticeable symptoms of a ministroke or stroke may include:

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s a medical emergency. Call 911 or your local emergency services right away.

The onset of MID symptoms may be sudden. These symptoms may include:

The symptoms may improve but then return if you experience more ministrokes.

A doctor will ask you or a family member for information, including your medical history, medications, and diet.

To check for signs of strokes, a doctor will perform a complete physical exam and look for:

  • weakness or numbness in your arms or legs
  • difficulty speaking
  • difficulty with vision
  • difficulty with gait or balance

A doctor may order the following tests to check for other health conditions:

There’s no cure for MID, but treatment may help prevent future ministrokes.

To prevent blood clots, a doctor may prescribe aspirin or other blood-thinning drugs.

A doctor may perform surgery (carotid endarterectomy) to remove blockages in your carotid arteries, the main blood vessels to your brain.

A doctor may also prescribe medications to treat conditions that could cause ministrokes, including:

high blood pressurediuretics, alpha-blockers, or beta-blockers
diabetesinsulin, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, biguanides, and other drugs
high cholesterolstatins or nonstatins
heart diseasestatins, beta-blockers, and ACE inhibitors

The average life expectancy for people with vascular dementia, such as MID, is about 5 years.

This is less than the Alzheimer’s life expectancy of 8 to 10 years because there’s a greater possibility of dying from a stroke or heart attack with MID than from complications due to dementia.

While you can’t control for some risk factors for MID, such as age and genetics, maintaining a healthy lifestyle may help lower your risk factor for dementia as well as for strokes that could lead to MID.

This includes:

Alzheimer’s disease and MID are the two most common types of dementia, but they’re not the same condition:

  • Alzheimer’s is caused by a buildup of abnormal proteins that destroy your brain cells.
  • MID is a type of vascular dementia caused by multiple strokes that lead to brain damage.
  • The symptoms of Alzheimer’s typically become noticeable progressively and slowly. With MID, the symptoms may occur suddenly.

Alzheimer’s may occur simultaneously with MID.

MID is a type of vascular dementia that may develop after multiple ministrokes cause brain damage. Its main risk factor is high blood pressure.

Because ministrokes often have no symptoms, you may not be aware you have MID until you experience symptoms like difficulty concentrating or confusion.

MID symptoms may improve but then get worse with additional ministrokes.

There’s no cure for MID, but a healthy lifestyle and medications may help prevent the ministrokes that cause it.

If you think you’re experiencing a stroke, you should call 911 or your local emergency services immediately.