Vascular dementia is an umbrella term, encompassing the pathological changes in the brain due to cerebrovascular disease that result in dementia. Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia, after Alzheimer's disease. In this paper, I outline the concept of vascular dementia, the key aspects of the disease that are yet to be clarified, and the current status of clinical trials. Assessing these factors, I discuss how treatable vascular dementia presently is. Use of the term'vascular dementia'is riddled with uncertainties regarding disease classification, and non-standardized diagnostic criteria. There are difficulties in determining the exact relationship between cerebrovascular pathology and cognitive impairment. The comorbid effects of Alzheimer's pathology in some individuals also present an obstacle to reliable clinical diagnosis, and hinder research into effective management approaches. Vascular dementia is preventable and treatable, as there are established primary and secondary prevention measures for the causative cerebrovascular diseases, such as vascular risk factor intervention, antiplatelet therapy, and anticoagulation, amongst others. However, unlike Alzheimer's disease, there are no established symptomatic treatments for vascular dementia. Clinical trials of cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine indicate that they produce small cognitive benefits in patients with vascular dementia, though the exact clinical significance of these is uncertain. Data are insufficient to support the widespread use of these drugs in vascular dementia. Rehabilitation and physical and cognitive exercise may be beneficial, but evidence of cognitive benefit and relief of neuropsychiatric symptoms due to exercise is lacking.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology