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Binswanger's disease

Binswanger's disease, also known as subcortical vascular dementia, is a type of dementia that involves extensive microscopic damage to the small blood vessels and nerve fibers that make up the brain's white matter. White matter refers to nerve fibers that are surrounded by myelin, a whitish coating of fats and other materials that act as protective insulation. The damage is the result of the thickening and narrowing (atherosclerosis) of arteries that feed the subcortical areas of the brain. As the arteries become more narrowed (obstructed), the blood supplied by those arteries decreases and brain tissue dies.

Binswanger's disease, or subcortical vascular dementia, is one of several disorders that fall under the category of vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID) that affect blood flow to and within the brain.

Neurological symptoms of subcortical vascular dementia include:

  • Progressive loss of thinking, decision-making, organization, and memory
  • An unsteady walk
  • Changes in behavior, attention, and mood
  • Speech and swallowing difficulties

People with subcortical vascular disease often have high blood pressure, a history of stroke, or evidence of disease of the large blood vessels in the neck or heart valves. Symptoms tend to begin after age 60 and progress in a stepwise manner. Both males and females are affected by the disease.

How can I or my loved one help improve care for people with Binswanger's disease?

Consider participating in a clinical trial so clinicians and scientists can learn more about Binswanger's disease. Clinical research uses human volunteers to help researchers learn more about a disorder and perhaps find better ways to safely detect, treat, or prevent disease.

All types of volunteers are needed—those who are healthy or may have an illness or disease—of all different ages, sexes, races, and ethnicities to ensure that study results apply to as many people as possible, and that treatments will be safe and effective for everyone who will use them.

For information about participating in clinical research visit NIH Clinical Research Trials and You. Learn about clinical trials currently looking for people with Binswanger's disease at, a database of current and past clinical studies and research results.

Where can I find more information about Binswanger's disease?

The following organizations offer information and other resources:

Alzheimer's and Related Dementias Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center
Phone: 800-438-4380

National Institute on Aging
Phone: 800-222-2225

National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
Phone: 203-744-0100 or 800-999-6673

Content source: Accessed June 22, 2023.

The information in this document is for general educational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for personalized professional advice. Although the information was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, MedLink, its representatives, and the providers of the information do not guarantee its accuracy and disclaim responsibility for adverse consequences resulting from its use. For further information, consult a physician and the organization referred to herein.

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