Mild Cognitive Impairment

1 What is Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)?

An intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia is called Mild cognitive impairment or MCI.

You and your family or friends may notice that your mental function or memory may differ because mild cognitive impairment can occur regarding problems with your language, memory, judgment and thinking compared to normal people.

This also may increase your risk for dementia because of Alzheimer’s disease or other brain conditions but not really severe enough to change your usual activities, most of the people who had this became better.

2 Symptoms

The symptoms of mild cognitive impairment may include:

  • Often you forget a lot of things,
  • you feel or see differently in your familiar environments,
  • you forget a lot of events such as birthdays and meetings,
  • you are showing poor judgment,
  • you become impulsive,
  • you lose track of the conversation or the flow of the movie,
  • you are overwhelmed by decisions,
  • you may also feel anxiety, aggression, apathy, depression and irritability.

Increasing or consistent concern may be a sign of mild cognitive impairment.

As we grow older, our body as well as our brain changes. As we age, we may forget things but if the forgetfulness is consistent or when it takes you longer to think of a word or to recall a person’s name, you may have mild cognitive impairment.

If you think you have mild cognitive impairment, see your doctor.

3 Causes

There is no known cause for mild cognitive impairment and no single outcome for the disorder also.

Mild cognitive impairment may remain stable for years and may progress to another type of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease or it may improve over time.

Studies show that mild cognitive impairment mostly in autopsies with people who had MCI had lesser brain changes that can be seen in people who have Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

These changes may include Lewy bodies that are the microscopic clumps of another protein associated with Parkinson’s disease; small strokes or the reduced blood flow through brain blood vessels; some cases of Alzheimer’s disease; dementia with Lewy bodies; abnormal clumps of beta amyloid protein; microscopic protein clumps of Alzheimer’s disease.

Image studies show that the following changes may include: plaques throughout the brain; enlargement of the brain’s fluid-filled spaces or ventricles; reduced use of glucose which is the primary source of energy for cells in brain region; and shrinkage of the hippocampus.

4 Making a Diagnosis

There is no specific test to confirm a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

When you visit you doctor makes sure to be aware of the pre-appointment restrictions.

Ask your doctor first if you need to fast or what to do to prepare yourself for diagnostic tests. He may refer you to a neurologist, neuropsychologist, and psychiatrist.

Since one of the symptoms is memory loss, you may bring a family member or a close friend in order for them to help you with relevant information and to support you.

Bring a notebook so that you can list all the things that you want to ask the doctor or things that he will tell you.

You can also list down the symptoms that you are experiencing and the medications, supplements or vitamins that you are taking every day.

Also, list down the medical conditions that you had and family history.

Here are some of the questions that you may ask your doctor:

  • Do I have a memory problem?
  • Why?
  • What is the cause?
  • Are there any tests I need to take?
  • Are there treatments?
  • Do I need to see a specialist?
  • How much will it be?
  • Are there any long-term complications?
  • Do I have any restrictions?
  • Will these affect my medical conditions?
  • Is there a genetic alternative?
  • What websites do you recommend? 

You doctor may ask you these things:

  • What memory difficulties are you having?
  • When did it start?
  • Are they getting worse or better?
  • Do you feel anxious about it?
  • Have you noticed any changes to yourself the way you react to people?
  • Did your family or friend notice any changes?
  • Do you have more energy or less?
  • Do you drink alcohol?
  • How much?
  • Do you have trouble walking or breathing?
  • Are you experiencing any slight memory loss? 

Your doctor may tell you there are no specific tests to confirm that you have the mild cognitive impairment but they may diagnose it on the following factors such as Memory loss.

  • You have problems with planning and making decisions or following instructions, you may decline over time.
  • Your medical history that states that your ability has declined from a higher level.
  • Your daily activities or overall abilities or mental function are affected.
  • Mental status testing like Mini-Mental State Examination or MMSE that shows a mild level of impairment for your education level and your age, this test may help what type of memory is affected most.
  • If your diagnosis isn’t dementia because the symptoms, your medical history or mental status testing and reports from your doctors aren’t severe enough to be an Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. 

Your doctor may recommend basic tests to see if your brain and nervous system are working and these tests can help detect strokes, Parkinson’s disease tumors or other medical conditions. These exams may test: eye movements, balance, reflexes, blood tests that can rule out physical problems and can affect vitamin B-12 deficiency, brain imaging such as MRI or CT scan for checking of brain tumor, mental status testing that can be done in 10 minutes to provide details about your mental function and identify patterns of changes.

These exams may test: eye movements, balance, reflexes, blood tests that can rule out physical problems and can affect vitamin B-12 deficiency, brain imaging such as MRI or CT scan for checking of brain tumor, mental status testing that can be done in 10 minutes to provide details about your mental function and identify patterns of changes.

5 Treatment

The Food and Drug Administration or FDA doesn’t approve any drugs or treatments for people with mild cognitive impairment.

Expert is still researching or studying the disorder, its causes, and treatments that may improve symptoms or no delay the progress of other forms of dementia.

Drugs for Alzheimer’s disease may sometimes be recommended by doctors but not for people who have cholinesterase inhibitors.

These are the conditions that can affect memory: Depression which is you often feel mentally foggy or forgetful and when you are forgetful, treating these may improve your daily life; high blood pressure which means you are most likely to have problems with the blood vessels in your brains, if not medicated can cause memory difficulties; sleep apnea, you will have a hard time sleeping because when you sleep your breathing will suddenly stops and start again and you can’t concentrate and you will feel excessively tired during the day, treating these may improve alertness and these symptoms.

6 Prevention

Studies show that physical activities have beneficial effects on preventing the symptoms of mild cognitive impairment or progress of other forms of dementia.

A healthy diet and nutritional supplements too can help in the prevention.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

A few alternative and homeopathic remedies exist for mild cognitive impairment.

To prevent or delay the progression of mild cognitive impairment, you may take supplements like vitamin E or ginkgo but these supplements are not clinically tested.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to prevent mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Experts reveal that they have mixed results if exercise, a healthy lifestyle choice or diet can prevent or even reverse the cognitive decline but these three may promote good overall health.

To prevent the progress of having other forms of dementia, you may do these things:

  • Have a diet with low fats and rich in fruits and vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids are known to be good for the heart.
  • Yardstick for the amount of omega-3 fatty acids with the use of fish consumption may also have a benefit.
  • Exercise regularly so that our heart and other organs may function well.
  • Playing computer games.
  • Reading books.
  • Using the computer and other intellectual activities may prevent this cognitive decline.
  • Social engagement will help slow mental decline and preserve mental function.
  • Memory training may help improve your function or other cognitive training.

9 Risks and Complications

Having a gene known as APOE-e4 that can be seen with the Alzheimer’s disease is the strongest risk factor for mild cognitive impairment.

Other risk factors include:

  • increasing age
  • current smoking
  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • depression
  • no exercise
  • high cholesterol
  • doesn’t participate in any socially or mentally stimulating activities.

They have a significantly increased risk of developing other types of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

About 1 to 2 percent of other adults may develop dementia yearly and 6 to 15 percent develops dementia yearly that has mild cognitive impairment.

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