Perspectives in the treatment of vascular dementia
The diagnosis and treatment of vascular dementia (VaD) are particularly challenging because of its multiple causal lesions and the variety of its clinical presentations. Even poststroke dementia cases may be due to preexisting Alzheimer's disease. Diagnostic criteria for clinical trials have been implemented quite recently. Of the vasodilator agents, only the ergoloid mesylates have shown mild benefit. The calcium channel blocker nimodipine appears to be useful in subcortical VaD. Of the nootropic agents, memantine appears to be promising. Pentoxifylline produced significant improvement in multi-infarct VaD. Aspirin, triflusal and Ginkgo biloba extract were associated with some stabilization of dementia progression, perhaps due to their antiplatelet effects. Acetyl-cholinesterase inhibitors appear to be useful in improving memory and activities of daily living in VaD. Results of a large trial of donepezil in VaD should be available soon. Hyperbaric oxygen has been reported to be effective in Binswanger's disease. From the public health perspective, stroke prevention, particularly in atrial fibrillation, and the early and adequate treatment of arterial hypertension clearly decrease the incidence of VaD.