The condition known as “Mild Cognitive Impairment” is one that is typically found in individuals starting around middle-age and continuing into the later decades of lifespan.
The person who becomes concerned about their “memory” and other common cognitive problems such as becoming confused and disoriented while driving to a known place may question whether they are beginning to have signs of MCI
in some cases, emotional factors play a role such as heightened anxiety, fear of going to unfamiliar places, and the degree of sadness or depression.
Since the condition of MCI was originally described by clinicians at the Meal Clinic in 1999, has been a plethora of research particularly focusing upon the possibility that MCI may be a precursor to a neurocognitive degenerative disorder such as Alzheimer’s disease. While there are several different estimates regarding the percentage of individuals who may going to develop a diagnosable dementia,, some studies seem to coalesce around 50%. The progression of cognitive impairment from the point of diagnosis of MCI to a diagnosable dementia is approximately five years.
diagnosing MCI is one of clinical correlation. That is, several independent methods useful for diagnosis are typically employed. A Comprehensive Neuropsychological Evaluation is critical for assessing functional capacity of individual and comparing it to the likely expected capacity based on individual factors that persons life. These factors include general physical health status, type of occupation, social/interactional areas, educational attainment, and any history of neurodevelopmental or CNS illness.
Other diagnostic measures typically involve forms of diagnostic imaging centers and MRI of the brain specifically looking for regions of interest that can correlate with reported symptoms and findings on neuropsychological assessment. In addition, laboratory studies can assess for specific biomarkers such as protein which has been associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. Further, genetic studies can be done to assess if there is a risk factor for the overproduction of specific protein which has been correlated with the onset of reported symptoms of dementia.
While the majority of research has focused upon the correlation of MCI and Alzheimer’s Disease, a large number of individuals in the upper decades of life may be experiencing symptoms of Cervical Vascular Disease which can also lead to a manifestation of your cognitive dimension. To further complicate matters, approximately 50% of individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease will also qualify for diagnosis of Cerebral Vascular Disease.
At this point, the reader maybe asking what can be done if the diagnosis of MCI is found?
The answer involves several levels of potential intervention:
1. Ideally, the individual is assessed at an early point in the progression of MCI. The patient and family can be educated regarding specific signs and symptoms and to make reasonable adaptations in the patient’s environment the least amount of stress and misunderstanding.
2. While there presently is no cure treatment for memory problems and associated cognitive symptoms related to the disease process and Alzheimer’s Disease, there are a number of medications that can be useful in mitigating the memory and cognitive symptoms for an extended period of time and therefore enhance the quality of the individual’s life.
3. Lifestyle adjustments can make a difference in the progression and potentially disabling aspects of the neurodegenerative disease. Physical exercise, treating distractor switches hypercholesterolemia, and maintaining a healthy diet can all be useful in mitigating symptoms