Background: Several sets of diagnostic criteria have been published for vascular dementia since the 1960s. The continuing ambiguity in vascular dementia definition warrants a critical reexamination.
Methods: Participants at a special symposium of the International Society for Vascular Behavioral and Cognitive Disorders (VASCOG) in 2009 critiqued the current criteria. They drafted a proposal for a new set of criteria, later reviewed through multiple drafts by the group, including additional experts and the members of the Neurocognitive Disorders Work Group of the fifth revision of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) Task Force.
Results: Cognitive disorders of vascular etiology are a heterogeneous group of disorders with diverse pathologies and clinical manifestations, discussed broadly under the rubric of vascular cognitive disorders (VCD). The continuum of vascular cognitive impairment is recognized by the categories of Mild Vascular Cognitive Disorder, and Vascular Dementia or Major Vascular Cognitive Disorder. Diagnostic thresholds are defined. Clinical and neuroimaging criteria are proposed for establishing vascular etiology. Subtypes of VCD are described, and the frequent cooccurrence of Alzheimer disease pathology emphasized.
Conclusions: The proposed criteria for VCD provide a coherent approach to the diagnosis of this diverse group of disorders, with a view to stimulating clinical and pathologic validation studies. These criteria can be harmonized with the DSM-5 criteria such that an international consensus on the criteria for VCD may be achieved.