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How Fast Does Mild Cognitive Impairment Progress?

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a condition which marks a loss of cognitive abilities such as memory and thinking.[1]

How Fast Does Mild Cognitive Impairment Progress?

Mild cognitive impairment does not have a fixed rate of progress. Some persons may have a few years of a window before they are diagnosed for Alzheimer’s. Others may have even longer or maybe never ever get diagnosed for Alzheimer’s or dementia. Some people may have only mild cognitive impairment even after they are 10 years into the condition.

To get a clear picture about how fast mild cognitive impairment will progress to the next extent, it is better to go for imaging scans which will depict how much beta- amyloid and tau is collected in the person’s brain. However, insurance does not cover these tests and many doctors prefer not to advise these tests for a mild cognitive impairment patient, it is best achieved by joining clinical trials. Alzheimer’s witnesses an accumulation of beta – amyloid plaques or tau triangles in the brain. If the cognitive impairment symptoms also worsen along with these proteins getting deposited, and this is confirmed by the imaging scans, it can be said that the mild cognitive impairment is progressing into Alzheimer’s or dementia.

There is no exact number as to how many people affected by mild cognitive impairment progress to dementia, but researchers do believe that almost half of the people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment progress to some form of dementia within five years. An MCI means that a person’s cognitive abilities are not what they should be for a person of the same age and educational skills, but they are not bad enough to affect their day to day lives either. Whereas, dementia is exactly that- a disruption of quality of life and difficulty in performing day to day activities.[2]

Symptoms Of Mild Cognitive Impairment

Symptoms of mild cognitive impairment may be any or all of the following-

  • If you forget things more often than is usual for you
  • You forget important events like appointments
  • You are lost in your thread of conversation or train of thought, like while discussing a movie
  • You feel a difficulty in understanding instructions, planning how to execute a task or making decisions
  • You have problems with finding your way around, especially in a known environment
  • You become more impulsive
  • Your family or friends talk to you about or mark any of these changes in you
  • You may experience depression
  • You may get easily irritable or aggressive
  • You may get anxious
  • You may experience apathy[3]

Causes Of Mild Cognitive Impairment

There is no single or particular cause of mild cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment may remain stable for years, with no changes in symptoms, it may progress to a more severe form like Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia or it may even get better over time.

Risk Factors For Mild Cognitive Impairment

Some of the risk factors for mild cognitive impairment are-

Complications Of Mild Cognitive Impairment

Persons who are suffering from mild cognitive impairment are at an increased risk of progressing towards dementia, although this cannot be stated as a certainty. Many persons suffering from mild cognitive impairment go on to progress into dementia.[5]

Treatment Of Mild Cognitive Impairment

There are currently no specific drugs or treatments that are approved for the treatment of mild cognitive impairment. This is however, an area where active research is still going on with an effort and a hope to understand the condition better, so that those suffering from it can find improvement in their symptoms or the progression of their condition can be slowed down.

Mild cognitive impairment is a stage which marks the decline of one’s cognitive abilities, which include memory and thinking abilities. It is a noticeable and measurable condition. So far, there is no cure for the condition and the outcome of the condition also varies, from staying stable, to progressing to dementia to getting better over time.[6]


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 13, 2022

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