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Disease Profile

Binswanger’s disease

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

Dementia multi-infarct; Multi-infarct dementia


Nervous System Diseases


Binswanger's disease is a type of dementia caused by widespread, microscopic areas of damage to the deep layers of white matter in the brain.[1] Most affected people experience progressive memory loss and deterioration of intellectual abilities (dementia); urinary urgency or incontinence; and an abnormally slow, unsteady gait (style of walking).[2] While there is no cure, the progression of Binswanger's disease can be slowed with healthy lifestyle choices. Treatment is based on the signs and symptoms present in each person.[1]


The signs and symptoms associated with Binswanger's disease generally disrupt tasks related to "executive cognitive functioning," including short-term memory, organization, mood, the regulation of attention, the ability to make decisions, and appropriate behavior. Binswanger's disease is primarily characterized by psychomotor slowness an increase in the length of time it takes, for example, for the fingers to turn the thought of a letter into the shape of a letter on a piece of paper. Other symptoms include forgetfulness (but not as severe as the forgetfulness of Alzheimer disease); changes in speech; an unsteady gait; clumsiness or frequent falls; changes in personality or mood (most likely in the form of apathy, irritability, and depression); and urinary symptoms that aren't caused by urological disease.[1][2]


Binswanger's disease occurs when the blood vessels that supply the deep structures of the brain become obstructed (blocked). As the arteries become more and more narrowed, the blood supplied by those arteries decreases and brain tissue dies. This can be caused by atherosclerosis, thromboembolism (blood clots) and other diseases such as CADASIL.[1][2]

Risk factors for Binswanger's disease include:[2]


A diagnosis of Binswanger's disease is often suspected based on the presence of characteristic signs and symptoms. Additional testing can then be ordered to confirm the diagnosis. This generally consists of imaging studies of the brain (i.e. CT scan and/or MRI scan).[1][2]


The brain damage associated with Binswanger's disease is not reversible. Treatment is based on the signs and symptoms present in each person. For example, medications may be prescribed to treat depression, agitation, and other symptoms associated with the condition. Successful management of hypertension and diabetes can slow the progression of atherosclerosis, which can delay the progression of Binswanger's disease.[1][2]


Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.

Organizations Providing General Support

    Learn more

    These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

    Where to Start

      In-Depth Information

      • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
      • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
      • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Binswanger's disease. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


        1. NINDS Binswanger's Disease Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). April 2015; https://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/binswangers/binswangers.htm.
        2. Elble RJ. Binswanger's Disease. National Organization for Rare Disorders. 2012; https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/binswangers-disease/.

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