Vascular Dementia

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Approval Status

No Clearance by US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

No Approval by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS)

! Read the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) position paper on off-label hyperbaric treatment:
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: Don't Be Misled, published 22 August 2013.

About Clearance and Approval


Definition and Causes

Vascular dementia is a loss of memory and thinking capacity as a result of impaired blood flow to parts of the brain. It is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s Disease.

Vascular dementia may be caused a major stroke, by many smaller strokes, or by damage to tiny vessels deep within the brain. Ischemic strokes, or cerebral infarctions, may cause permanent damage to the brain tissue deprived of blood. Symptoms include confusion, short attention span, and difficulty with activities of daily living.

In mixed dementia, brain damage may result from vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease combined. People experience vascular dementia in rather sudden steps, unlike the slow, steady progression seen in Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s desease is caused by a protein buildup that slowly destroys brain cells and tissues. Learn more about Alzheimer's Disease.

People with a history of stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol levels face increased risk of vascular dementia.

Evidence Index

FDA cleared, widely reimbursed
Strong body of evidence
Repeatedly favorable results
Early or mixed results
Unfavorable or no evidence
Strong evidence against HBOT

Treatment with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is an active area of stroke research, and some centers use HBOT routinely. By increasing the circulation of oxygenated blood in the brain, they hypothesize, HBOT may help reduce the extent of brain damage and speed recovery and rehabilitation from vascular dementia and other cognitive impairments. But there is scant evidence in the medical literature to support HBOT for vascular dementia, in particular.

HyperbaricLink Commentary

Advancing by small trials, with mixed results, early researchers still keep gathering promising clinical evidence on hyperbaric oxygen for acute ischemic stroke. Supplying oxygen-rich blood to the damaged brain makes good plain sense. HBOT has been approved for patients with intracranial abscess and acute traumatic ischemias, based on similar rationale. Likely any evidence to support HBOT for vascular dementia will arise from this broader field of investigation.

Patient Resources

HyperbaricLink recommends the following websites for anyone seeking authoritative information, patient advocacy, and community support for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer's Association is the leading, global voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's and dementia care and support, and the largest private, nonprofit funder of dementia research. The association’s HONcode certified website provides an excellent resource for people living with dementia.

Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center
US National Institute on Aging, US National Institutes of Health

The US Congress created ADEAR to compile, archive, and disseminate information about Alzheimer's disease for health professionals, people affected by Alzheimer’s, and the public. The center provides reliable information and support via excellent web, telephone, and print communications.

National Stroke Association

The only national nonprofit healthcare organization focusing 100 percent of its resources and attention on stroke, the National Stroke Association provides education and programs on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and support for everyone affected by stroke.

Clinical Resources

Start with the following resources to explore current research activities and the peer-reviewed medical literature on hyperbaric oxygen therapy for vascular dementia.

 Use the search buttons below to go directly to research on hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center
National Institute on Aging, US National Institutes of Health

Physicians and other health professionals will find an Alzheimer’s health literature search engine, the latest diagnostic guidelines, and other important information on the ADEAR website.
US National Institutes of Health keeps the official list of human clinical trials currently enrolling, in progress, and recently completed. One may reasonably question the size and legitimacy of any study not listed here.



An independent, international, nongovernmental organization, the Cochrane Collaboration is a powerful force in evidence-based medicine. One may consider a Cochrane Reviews article on any HBOT topic required reading.

Read the 2012 Cochrane Intervention Review: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for vascular dementia  from the Cochrane Dementia and Congitive Improvement Group, doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009425.pub2

Google Scholar

A specialized Google search engine, Google Scholar indexes scholarly articles, patents, and legal opinions and journals. Google Scholar may produce many search results, but entries provide easy access to full-text journal articles.

Search Google Scholar


HBOEvidence uses computerized tools to appraise the key randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in the hyperbaric medical literature. One may reasonably question the overall strength of HBOT evidence for any disease or condition not covered here.

Read the HBOEvidence appraisals for treatment of vascular dementia with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
US National Library of Medicine, US National Institutes of Health

PubMed keeps the official list of scientific papers published in reputable peer-reviewed medical journals. One may reasonably question the importance and legitimacy of any study not listed here.



News About Vascular Dementia and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

More news from O2.0 – the HyperbaricLink blog

Complete vascular dementia archive from O2.0 — the HyperbaricLink blog

Further Learning

HyperbaricLink suggests Jill Bolte Taylor's stroke of insight a TED Talk presented in 2008.

TED: Ideas Worth Spreading

Related Terms

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Biswanger’s disease
  • Brain
  • Cognitive functioning
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Functional impairments
  • Memory
  • Mixed dementia
  • Multi-infarct dementia
  • Neurologic
  • Post-stroke dementia
  • Single-infarct dementia
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • VaD
  • Vascular cognitive impairment


National Institute on Aging, vascular dementia resources. Retrieved 02 May 2015.
Alzheimer's Association UK, What is vascular dementia?. Retrieved 5 September 2011.
Page Data
Updated: 28 Jul 2015 05:30 PM
Created: 05 Sep 2011 08:07 AM
By: About the authors »