The cognitive syndrome of vascular dementia: implications for clinical trials

Desmond, D. W.; Erkinjuntti, T.; Sano, M.; Cummings, J. L.; Bowler, J. V.; Pasquier, F.; Moroney, J. T.; Ferris, S. H.; Stern, Yaakov; Sachdev, P. S.; Hachinski, V. C.

Dementia is common among patients with cerebrovascular disease, particularly in a setting of one or more clinically evident strokes. Prior cohort and case studies have suggested that the cognitive syndrome of vascular dementia is characterized by predominant executive dysfunction, in contrast to the deficits in memory and language function that are typical of patients with Alzheimer disease. The course of cognitive decline may also differ between those dementia subtypes, with many, but not all, patients with vascular dementia exhibiting a stepwise course of decline caused by recurrent stroke and most patients with Alzheimer disease exhibiting a gradually progressive course of decline. The findings of prior studies of the cognitive syndrome of vascular dementia must be interpreted with caution, however, because of (1) possible inaccuracies in the determination of the dementia subtype and the loss of precision that might result from pooling heterogeneous subgroups of patients with vascular dementia, (2) difficulties inherent in identifying a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in patients who are required to have memory impairment and other deficits to meet operationalized criteria for dementia, and (3) the use of limited test batteries whose psychometric properties are incompletely understood. Specific questions that should be addressed by future studies are discussed.



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Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders

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February 11, 2022