What Is Vascular Dementia? Frank Beckmann, Veteran WJR Radio Host, Dies Aged 72

Frank Beckmann, the retired radio host and University of Michigan announcer, has died as a result of vascular dementia.

His wife, Karen Beckmann, has revealed that the 72-year-old died as a result of the untreatable condition on Saturday.

Frank Beckmann began displaying unusual behavior in the month following his retirement from WJR in March last year—after 48 years on air. He was diagnosed with vascular dementia in June, according to The Detroit News.

He suffered a severe stroke in October, which left him hospitalized for 35 days. A further series of strokes followed and he was transferred to a hospice.

On Friday it was announced that Beckmann, who launched the sports talk show Sportswrap on WJR in 1981, was in critical condition at the Oakland County hospice facility.

What Is Vascular Dementia?

After Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia, affecting around a third of people aged over 70.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines vascular dementia as changes to memory, thinking and behavior that result from conditions affecting the blood vessels in the brain.

This damage causes the brain to be deprived of oxygen, with this shortage inhibiting the brain. A common cause is a stroke, causing blood flow to the brain to be blocked. Risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking, according to the NIH.

The severity of damage to cognition and brain function is significantly affected by the size, location, and number of vascular changes.

Vascular dementia can happen in isolation or can be part of another associated condition like Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.

The symptoms of vascular dementia are similar to those of Alzheimer's disease, and include trouble when performing once-easy tasks, difficulty learning new information and routines, forgetting current or past events, and difficulty reading and writing.

Changes in personality, behavior, and mood that can arise as the result of vascular dementia are depression, agitation, and anger.

NIH adds that the symptoms of vascular dementia can begin gradually or can occur very suddenly. Progressing over time, there may be short periods in which cognition improves.

There isn't a single treatment for vascular dementia but it is commonly managed with medications designed to prevent further damage to the brain. This means addressing risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, as well as reducing problems with the rhythm of the heartbeat which can prevent additional strokes.

The Detroit News reported that there will be no funeral for Beckmann, with his wife saying a visitation will take place at Five Points Community Church, Auburn Hills, Michigan, between 1 and 7 p.m. on Thursday.

Karen Beckman asked that instead of flowers mourners of the veteran broadcaster should donate to Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which is creating a Frank Beckmann Center for Journalism.

A stock image of a microphone in an empty studio. Veteran radio broadcaster Frank Beckmann died on Saturday as the result of vascular dementia. avdyachenko/GETTY