Vascular dementia (VaD) is the second leading cause of dementia and is often underdiagnosed. Stroke is the leading cause of VaD, although it may also develop secondary to a variety of other cerebrovascular or cardiovascular conditions. Currently, no drugs are approved for the treatment of VaD. However, because cholinergic deficits have been found to patients with VaD, similar to those found in patients with Alzheimer disease (AD), it is believed that cholinesterase inhibitors, which are indicated for the treatment of mild to moderate AD, may also provide benefit for patients with VaD. Clinical trials of donepezil, galantamine, and rivastigmine have supported this idea, although as yet, large-scale, prospective studies in VaD have only been reported for donepezil. Donepezil was shown to provide benefits in cognition, global function, and activities of daily living compared with placebo. The N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist memantine may also provide some cognitive benefit in VaD, particularly in patients with more advanced disease. These data suggest that antidementia drugs currently used for treatment of AD should be considered for treatment of VaD as well.
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