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Mild Cognitive Impairment

Definition

Mild cognitive impairment–amnestic type (MCI-AT) is mild, repeated memory loss. It lies between the normal memory loss of aging and the more serious conditions of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. MCI-AT only involves problems with memory.

People with MCI-AT who are over age 65 have a higher chance of developing dementia and Alzheimer's. However, many people with MCI-AT never develop these disorders. Some even return to normal.

Areas of the Brain

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Causes    TOP

The causes are not clear. However, genetic factors may be a cause.

Risk Factors    TOP

Factors that may increase your chance of developing MCI-AT include:

Research also suggests that these may be risk factors for MCI-AT:

  • Smoking
  • Lack of social contact
  • Low educational level
  • Excessive response to stress
  • Poor nutrition and lack of vitamins
  • Exposure to toxins

Symptoms    TOP

The main symptom is frequent, ongoing memory loss beyond what is normally expected for your age. That means having more than small lapses of memory. If you have MCI-AT, you may:

  • Remember much less of what you have just read or seen than people who have only the normal memory changes of aging
  • Take longer to recall information

Diagnosis    TOP

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may also talk with family members and caregivers. Tests may include:

  • Memory and cognitive skill tests
  • Blood tests
  • Lumbar puncture—to test the protective fluid around the brain and spinal cord for possible causes

Imaging tests take pictures of internal bodily structures. This can be done with:

Treatment    TOP

Treatment is focused on:

  • Preventing, or at least slowing down, further loss of memory and other cognitive abilities using
    • Cognitive intervention
    • Occupational therapy
  • Preventing dementia and Alzheimers disease

Medications

Researchers are currently studying the effects that several medications may have on slowing cognitive decline. These include:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors
  • Mood stabilizers

Prevention    TOP

To help reduce your chance of developing MCI-AT:

  • Manage medical conditions, especially high blood pressure.
  • Manage psychiatric conditions, such as depression.
  • Stay mentally active by doing things like memory exercises, crossword puzzles, reading, and taking classes.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Participate in social activities.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Eat a healthful diet.

RESOURCES:

American Psychiatric Association
https://www.psychiatry.org
National Institute on Aging
https://www.nia.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The Alzheimer Society of Canada
http://alzheimer.ca

References:

Birks J, Flicker L. Donepezil for mild cognitive impairment. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006;3:CD006104.
DeKosky ST, Williamson JD, et al. Ginko biloba for prevention of dementia: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2008;300(19):2306-2308.
Feldman HH, Jacova C. Mild cognitive impairment. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2005;13(8):645-655.
Gauthier S, Reisberg B, et al. Mild cognitive impairment. Lancet. 2006;367(9518):1262-1270.
Institute for the Study of Aging and International Longevity Center–USA (March 2001). Achieving and Maintaining Cognitive Vitality With Aging: A Workshop Report. New York, NY.
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated May 3, 2017. Accessed October 2, 2017.
Petersen RC. Mild cognitive impairment: Current research and clinical implications. Semin Neurol. 2007;27(1):22-31.
Petersen RC, Roberts RO, et al. Mild cognitive impairment: Ten years later. Arch Neurol. 2009;66(12):1447-1455.
Petersen RC, Smith GE, et al. Mild cognitive impairment: clinical characterization and outcome. Archives of Neurology. 1999;56(3):303-308.
Last reviewed September 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2013

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