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. 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
The causes are not clear. However, genetic factors may be a cause.
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
- Substance abuse
Research also suggests that these may be risk factors for MCI-AT:
- Lack of social contact
- Low educational level
- Excessive response to stress
- Poor nutrition and lack of vitamins
- Exposure to toxins
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
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 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 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
Researchers are currently studying the effects that several medications may have on slowing cognitive decline. These include:
- Cholinesterase inhibitors
- Mood stabilizers
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 healthful diet
American Psychiatric Association
National Institute on Aging
The Alzheimer Society of Canada
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National Institute on Aging. 2011-2012 Alzheimer's Disease Progress Report. Available at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/2011-2012-alzheimers-disease-progress-report. Accessed September 5, 2013.
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Last reviewed August 2015 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.