Mild Cognitive Impairment

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 (AD). 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.

  • Causes

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

  • 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
    (AD). 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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  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask 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 fluid around the brain and spinal cord for possible causes

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

    • MRI
    • PET scan
    • SPECT scan

  • Prevention

    To help reduce your chance of developing MCI-AT, take these steps:

    • 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
      healthy diet

  • Risk Factors

    MCI-AT is more common in people who 65 years and older. Other factors that may increase your chance of developing MCI-AT include:

    • Family history of MCI-AT, dementia, or Alzheimer's

    • Medical conditions, such as
      high blood pressure, heart disease,
      diabetes,
      stroke, head injury,
      depression,
      anxiety, or infections
    • Lack of physical activity
    • Overmedication
    • Substance abuse

    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

    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

  • Treatment

    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 Alzheimer's disease