While there are currently no specific treatments for vascular dementia, a doctor may prescribe medication to treat the risk factors like high blood pressure or diabetes which can cause damage to blood vessels in our brains.

There are currently no specific treatments for vascular dementia. However, a doctor may prescribe or monitor medicines taken to treat the underlying conditions that can damage blood vessels and vascular dementia. These include medications for diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart problems.

A doctor will also advise taking up a healthy lifestyle to help control these underlying conditions. This could include stopping smoking, doing more exercise, maintaining a normal weight and eating healthily.

 

Treatments for vascular dementia:

  • Medicines to treat or prevent underlying conditions like stroke, high blood pressure or diabetes.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy or speech therapy.
  • Music therapy, aromatherapy.
  • Medication for anxiety, agitation, and aggression such as antidepressants or antipsychotics when appropriate.

 

For people with both vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s (mixed dementia), there are some drugs that may help with the symptoms. You can find information about these medications here and discuss these treatment options with your doctor.

People diagnosed 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.

Depression

Depression is common in all forms of dementia. Your doctor may consider recommending cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT provides an opportunity for people to talk about their worries and concerns with a specialist practitioner. It aims to help people develop different ways of thinking and behaving.

There may also be other therapies offered in your local area that could help; these might include exercise or group activities such as music therapy.

You may be offered an antidepressant drug, either as an alternative to CBT or in combination with it. There are different types, or classes, of antidepressant; some are not suitable for people with dementia. Your doctor will be able to advise you if an antidepressant could help and which type would be best.

Agitation, anxiety and aggression

Some people with dementia experience agitation, aggression, delusions (negative or mistaken beliefs), severe anxiety, hallucinations, sleep disturbances and other behavioural symptoms. They are also known as neuropsychiatric symptoms or behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD).

While these symptoms can be difficult for the person living with dementia and their loved ones, there are simple things that might help. It may be possible to identify the cause or trigger of aggression or agitation. A person’s physical health may affect their behaviour – for example pain, being constipated or needing the toilet. Someone’s surroundings can also affect their behaviour, as well as their feelings towards certain situations.

Finding out if there are triggers that cause aggressive or agitated behaviour means it might be possible to remove, treat or avoid them. Mild behavioural symptoms can often be helped with adjustments to physical surroundings, reassurance or changes to daily routine. Possible triggers could include:

  • undetected pain or discomfort
  • infection
  • depression
  • social situations
  • factors in the environment
  • disruption to routine.
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Treatments for dementia

Read more about treatments for dementia, including information on treating depression, anxiety and agitation and for information on antipsychotics.

What is vascular dementia?

This booklet aims to help you understand more about vascular dementia. It gives an overview of the causes, symptoms and treatments.

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Alzheimer’s Research UK has a wide range of information about dementia. Order booklets or download them from our online form.

This information was updated in December 2021 and is due to be reviewed in December 2023, it was written by Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Information Services team with input from lay and expert reviewers. Please get in touch if you’d like a version with references or in a different format.

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