Vascular dementia

Vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease.

There are currently no specific treatments for vascular dementia. However a doctor may prescribe medicines to treat other underlying conditions that can damage blood vessels.

These include diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart problems. A doctor may also advise taking up a healthier lifestyle. This could include stopping smoking, taking more exercise, maintaining a normal weight and eating and drinking healthily.

Some of the symptoms of vascular dementia may be managed by physiotherapy, occupational therapy or speech therapy.

People with vascular dementia may benefit from cognitive therapy. These activities are designed to stimulate thinking skills and engage people. They are often group-based and include games with an emphasis on enjoyment.

For people with vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s together (mixed dementia), there are some drugs that may help with the symptoms. You can discuss the treatment options with the doctor.

To help relieve symptoms of anxiety, agitation and aggression, a doctor may first assess someone’s health and environment. This could help identify any causes or triggers of agitation or aggression. Non-drug approaches such as aromatherapy or music therapy may also be considered. This might depend on a person’s preference as well as the availability of treatments.

If someone experiences severe and distressing problems with agitation and aggression that can’t be controlled with non-drug approaches or milder medications, then antipsychotic drugs may be considered. However, these can have severe side-effects, and are not suitable for everyone. They should be carefully monitored. Your doctor will consider what may be appropriate.

For detailed information about treatments for dementia, visit our general treatments page or talk to your doctor.

This information was updated in January 2018 and is due for review in January 2020. It does not replace any advice that doctors, pharmacists or nurses may give you. Please contact us if you would like a version with references.

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