Background/Aims: The objective of this study was to determine whether treatment with acetylcholinesterase inhibitors would provide cognitive benefit for patients with vascular dementia. Methods: Studies in patients with vascular dementia, who had not taken acetylcholinesterase inhibitors or memantine for at least 6 weeks, were included. Results: Twelve studies were included in the final analysis. Donepezil showed significant improvement in Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale-cognitive subscale (ADAS-cog) as compared to placebo, at the doses tested, that is, 5 and 10 mg/day (difference in means -1.389 and -1.680, respectively, p ≤ 0.008), but not on the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) (p ≥ 0.259). Galantamine also improved the ADAS-cog in comparison to the placebo (difference in means -2.191, p < 0.001), whereas, rivastigmine did not show any benefit on ADAS-cog. However, the findings with rivastigmine are difficult to interpret, given there were only 2 studies. Treatment with cholinesterase inhibitors was associated with a twofold increase in the odds of discontinuation, due to adverse events (pooled OR 1.966, 95% CI 1.630-2.371, p < 0.001). Conclusion: The present results reveal the therapeutic benefits of donepezil and galantamine in patients with vascular dementia. Interestingly, the ADAS-cog and MMSE varied considerably in detecting cognitive improvement.

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