Are there treatments for vascular dementia?

There are treatments to help with many of the symptoms of dementia. At the moment we do not have a treatment that cures vascular dementia.

How quickly it progresses is different for everyone. Your symptoms may stay the same for months, or even years, but then they will suddenly get worse. Although your dementia will not get any better, it may be possible to slow down how quickly it progresses.

Treating the signs of vascular dementia

Vascular dementia can cause problems like depression, anxiety and falls. The stroke or dementia team can work with you to find ways around many of these problems. You might have medication for anxiety, or physiotherapy to reduce falls.

Medication
Sometimes medication may be used to improve your mood if you are feeling very down or depressed. Medication can also help with some of the problems seen in advanced vascular dementia. However, there are risks in taking these drugs, so it’s important that you talk through all the advantages and disadvantages with your family and doctor before you decide to try them.

Rehabilitation therapy
Memory and stroke services often have a team of experts that can help with various dementia problems. If your dementia is causing physical problems, such as falls, then you may be able to work with a physiotherapist to try to improve them.

A speech and language therapist may be able to help you with any communication problems that you’re having. An occupational therapist will also be able to work with you to make sure that you can be as independent as possible, particularly in your home environment.

Can some medications cause dementia symptoms?

Some medications may worsen memory and thinking problems. These include antihistamines for hay fever and other allergies, as well as some sleeping tablets. Doctors sometimes stop certain medications when they make a diagnosis of vascular dementia.

Do dementia medications work for vascular dementia?

Cholinesterase inhibitors, also known as AChE inhibitors, are drugs that are used to help with the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.These medications have been tried in vascular dementia, but they do not work as well as they do in Alzheimer’s disease. They also have side effects. Sometimes doctors will try using these medications in vascular dementia, especially if they think a patient has a mix of vascular and Alzheimer’s disease.

Memantine is a dementia drug that is only recommended for people with Alzheimer’s.

Slowing down the progression of vascular dementia

Although there is no proven treatment for vascular dementia, it may be possible to prevent mild problems developing into dementia. Treatments may also slow down how quickly dementia progresses. 

Doctors will work with you to try to reduce your risk of having further strokes, and lower the rate of damage due to small vessel disease. Some activities you may try include:

  • Treating high blood pressure.
  • Taking medications for high cholesterol.
  • Taking blood-thinning medication to stop clots forming in your blood.
  • Stopping smoking.
  • Losing weight if you need to.
  • Stay active, and eat healthy food.

Speak to your doctor or pharmacist to get individual advice about how you can reduce your risk of stroke.

You can read more about treating medical conditions linked to stroke. You can also read about how healthy lifestyle changes can help you

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