Worried about my husband following post op Brain Aneurysm

My name is Jo, I live on The Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. My husband Ian had a brain aneurysm operation 16 days ago. He suffered a small stroke a few days later. He first slept for most of the day and when the morphine ceased he slept less but was very very confused and we now know he has short term and some long term memory loss. He is about to be transferred to a rehabilitation hospital. We spoke to his surgeon this morning and he is quite positive about him eventually regaining memory, however, what has really upset us is that he stated he will probably have dementia at some point. Ian is 66 and apart from the memory loss is in good physical health. I would be very grateful if anyone here can make comment and hopefully put my mind at ease.
We asked the surgeon what we can do to help, he suggests jigsaws and reading. Any other suggestions will be gratefully received. Many thanks Jo.

I think the doctor was talking about vascular dementia, which is a very specific issue caused by aneurysm or stroke. There are numerous links and research out there about it. A solid summary in one sentence: “vascular dementia does not always mean a permanent and unavoidable decline.”

There are plenty of things you can do, the majority of which you’ll be doing to manage the aneurysm anyway. I know playing cards is a big memory builder, especially counting cards as you play. A great game is called Hand And Foot – it has a million easy rules to remember, can be readily modified to fit your given abilities, and can be made easier or harder as you go along. http://www.gocampingamerica.com/blog/how-play-card-game-hand-and-foot You can play with anywhere from two to eight people very easily.

Here’s a general summary of vascular dementia, google for more:

The underlying cause of vascular dementia is an interruption of blood flow to the brain. Starved of oxygen for even a short time, brain cells perish. To understand how vascular dementia progresses, it helps to picture the mind as a vast field of brain cells fed by a complexly branching irrigation system. The main lines enter the brain at the base of the skull and split into smaller arteries, which subdivide into even smaller capillaries.

Over a lifetime, things can go wrong with the brain’s irrigation system. For one thing, a weak patch on an artery wall can balloon outward, forming an aneurysm. If the aneurysm bursts, brain cells “downstream” are deprived of oxygen and perish. The cerebral arteries may also develop blockages, or blood clots. A severe blockage may affect a large region of the brain, causing symptoms such as paralysis, loss of speech, and even death.

These symptoms are the hallmarks of a stroke: an interruption of blood flow in the cerebral arteries, causing the death of brain cells. “Stroke” is an umbrella term that applies to a wide range of blockages and bleeding-whether large or small, momentary or prolonged. Stroke specialists suspect that most cases of vascular dementia trace to a series of small, short-lived blockages that affect relatively small patches of brain cells. Over time, however, the cumulative effect of many small strokes can lead to a condition known as multi-infarct dementia. The severity of multi-infarct dementia depends both on the location of the blockages and the number of them.

Preventing and Treating Vascular Dementia

The immediate cause of vascular dementia is stroke-interruptions in blood flow to the brain. So the best way to prevent vascular dementia is to lower the risk of stroke. The risk factors for stroke are well known. The single most important risk factor is high blood pressure, or hypertension. Other important risk factors for stroke are cigarette smoking, untreated diabetes, atherosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”), and heart disease-particularly abnormal heart rhythms that can lead to the formation of blood clots. The take-home message is simple: by reducing your risk for stroke, you also reduce your risk for vascular dementia.

But even if you have already been diagnosed with vascular dementia, it is not too late to do anything about it. The most important thing is to minimize the likelihood of additional strokes that could cause the dementia to get worse. This involves use of medications and addressing the factors behind cardiovascular disease. These steps, according to some studies, may not just halt the progression of vascular dementia, but may also reduce the symptoms. This does not apply to all people all of the time; however, it does mean that vascular dementia, unlike Alzheimer’s disease, does not always mean a permanent and unavoidable decline. And that may be the best news about dementia you ever hear.


That is the best most concise information to date and most of all - it’s reasonably positive for me at this time, thank you so much. The word dementia is almost all I heard from the surgeon yesterday it scared me so much. You can’t know how much I appreciate this response.