Defining dementia: Clinical criteria for the diagnosis of vascular dementia
The recognition of cerebrovascular disease (CVD) as a contributing factor and a cause of dementia has led to the development of clinical criteria for vascular dementia (VaD). Due to high specificity, the consensus criteria developed by the National Institute for Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)-Association Internationale pour la Recherche et l'Enseignement en Neurosciences (AIREN) have been used in controlled clinical trials to select patients with pure VaD. VaD is predominantly a subcortical frontal form of dementia with prominent executive dysfunction. In contrast, the criteria of the NINCDS-Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Association (ADRDA) emphasize memory loss as the main feature to distinguish Alzheimer's disease (AD) from VaD and from other forms of dementia. Moreover, CVD may precipitate the clinical expression of AD. Although no criteria have been created specifically for patients having AD with CVD, the ischemic score, the Informant Questionnaire on Cognitive Decline in the Elderly and a history of prestroke mild cognitive impairment (MCI) may be useful for identifying patients with this mixed form of dementia.