Mild Cognitive impairment


What is mild cognitive impairment?

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is mild memory and thinking problems. It is a stage in between normal ageing and a dementia. The person or people close to them may notice changes. The person’s ability to do daily tasks such as managing finances and making plans is not affected significantly.

What are the symptoms of mild cognitive impairment?

Mild memory problems are frequently a complaint. The ability to remember appointments or recent events may be affected but are often put down to getting older. There may be occasional difficulties in thinking of a word while speaking or recalling the spelling of a complex word. The person may struggle with working out a new route or take longer to do a complicated task.

What causes mild cognitive impairment?

The cause of mild cognitive impairment may be the disease process that causes Alzheimer’s dementia or brain blood supply problems. There may be other medical causes such as vitamin deficiencies or the effect of medications. It may not always be possible to determine the cause of mild cognitive impairment.

How is mild cognitive impairment diagnosed?

The doctor will need to take a detailed history of the person’s symptoms and medical problems. A neuropsychological examination, blood tests and brain scan will also be carried out. The doctor looks at all the information and then makes a diagnosis

Why is important to diagnose mild cognitive impairment?

People with mild cognitive impairment have an increased risk of developing a dementia. Studies show that 10-15% of people with mild cognitive impairment develop dementia each year compared to 1-2% of people without this condition. People with mild cognitive impairment need to be followed up closely to look for the earliest signs of a dementia. It is important to diagnose a dementia at the earliest stage in order to consider treatment. Additionally curable causes of mild cognitive impairment   such as vitamin deficiencies need to be addressed.

How is mild cognitive impairment treated?

There is no specific licensed treatment for mild cognitive impairment at present. Medications used to treat Alzheimer’s dementia have not been shown to improve the symptoms of mild cognitive impairment or to reduce the risk of developing a dementia. Strategies such as exercise and control of risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking may be of benefit. It is also important to engage in mentally stimulating activities. Some people may find that memory training exercises and strategies can be helpful although research has not shown that this reduces the risk of developing a dementia.