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Binswanger disease

Cerebrovascular diseases

by Jos Van der Poel

General outline

Binswanger disease is a form of vascular dementia and was first described in 1894.The illness occurs mainly in middle-aged hypertensive patients who show evidence of systematic vascular disease and who develop insidious fluctuating dementia with special involvement of memory, mood and cognition; seizures and mild strokes. Pathological features: lacunes, subcortical white matter demyelination, neuronal loss, gliosis, ventricular dilatation and atheromatosis of the larger cerebral vessels.


Subacute arteriosclerotic encephalopathy

Symptoms and course

  • forgetfulness
  • disorientation
  • slowness of thought
  • apathy
  • lack of emotion
  • depression
  • aggression
  • mild intellectual impairment (difficulties to think or reason)
  • language difficulties
  • problems reading and writing
  • mood swings (sometimes extreme)
  • loss of inhibitions and unusual behaviour towards other people

Causes and risk factors

The illness originates in an affection of small blood vessels in the brain, which leads to the loss of nerve cells. Risk factors are hypertension, atheriosclerosis and cardiacproblems.

Diagnostic procedures

Visible brain loss can be seen by undergoing a CT-scan. Examination of the condition of heart and blood vessels.

Care and treatment

Only the treatment of risk factors may have positive effect.

Available services

Alzheimer Europe

145 Route de Thionville

L- 2611 Luxembourg

Tel: +352 / 29.79.70

Fax: +352 / 29.79.72

Alzheimer's Disease International

45-46 Lower Marsh

London SE1 7RG

United Kingdom

Tel: +44 / 20 7620 3011

Fax: +44 / 20 7401 7351


  • Roman C; Senile dementia of the Binswanger type.JAMA, 1987, 13, 1782-8
  • Olsen C, Clasen M; Senile dementia of the Binswanger’s typeAmerican Academy of Family Physisians, Dec. 1998.



Last Updated: Friday 09 October 2009


  • Acknowledgements

    This information was gathered in the framework of the European Commission financed project "Rare forms of dementia". Neither the European Commission nor any person acting on its behalf is responsible for any use that might be made of the following information.
  • European Union