Mild Cognitive Impairment

Mild Cognitive Impairment, or MCI, has become better understood in recent years. It is broadly considered to be a transitional stage between normal, age-related cognitive changes and dementia. We have learned some key things about individuals with MCI that are very important to understand for long term quality of life. Believe it or not, if you have received a diagnosis of MCI, this is actually very good news. It means that you are one of the few people who have been brave enough to get yourself tested for memory concerns. And because of this, you have learned at the earliest possible stage of some potential future problems. It’s great news because at this stage we have a lot of options for treating you and others like you.

As a physician, I can tell you that almost 8% of people diagnosed with MCI convert to Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) within 1 year. However, 20% of people diagnosed with MCI revert to normal memory within 1 year. So a diagnosis of MCI is not a cause for panic so much as it is a call to action. MCI can be caused by a number of things and it’s very difficult to track down which one caused yours. However, studies of people with MCI who take Cholinesterase Inhibitors (CEIs), such as: Aricept and the Exelon Patch, have shown a slower 12 – 24 month rate of conversion to AD.

While there have been some mixed study results on the use of CEIs, the most recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine provides support for CEI effectiveness up to 24 months. I prescribe CEIs for my MCI patients and continue to see encouraging results.  I also suggest that my patients add vitamins, physical and mental exercises to their daily lives, all of which have been shown to slow the progress of AD.

If you have memory related concerns and haven’t been tested, know that *early detection is key*. If you have received a diagnosis of MCI, be aware of your options and continue to monitor your brain function. You can take our own clinical computerized screening test, or you can follow up with your physician for in-office testing. Which ever you choose, make sure you are being followed by a physician, testing yourself regularly to chart your progress and stay informed of all the latest research on how physical and mental exercise, diet and nutrition and other steps can keep your mind sharp and AD at bay. I wish you very good health.

Dr. John Dougherty

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