Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a condition in which people have more memory or other thinking problems than normal for their age, but their symptoms do not cause disability. Although MCI is not dementia, people with MCI are at greater risk for developing dementia. On average, about 50% of those who have MCI go on to develop dementia, while the other 50% of people do not. Some may even go back to normal cognition. Studies are underway to learn why some people with MCI progress to dementia and others do not.
The problems associated with MCI may also be caused by certain medications, cerebrovascular disease (which affects blood vessels that supply the brain), and other factors, including depression or anxiety. Some of the problems brought on by these conditions can be managed or reversed through treatment at places like the Penn Memory Center.
There are two types of MCI: amnestic and non-amnestic MCI.
Amnestic MCI is characterized predominately by memory impairment.
Non-Amnestic MCI is characterized predominately by impairment in cognitive domains other than memory, such as language, attention, executive functioning, and visuospatial abilities.
What treatment is available?
Currently, no drugs or other treatments are approved for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Doctors sometimes prescribe cholinesterase inhibitors, such as Donepezil, for people with MCI whose main symptom is memory loss. However, cholinesterase inhibitors are not recommended for routine treatment of MCI. Some people with MCI may benefit from medications to help with anxiety or depression, should they experience mood changes.
Beyond medications, it’s important to stay mentally, socially, and physically active to help with cognition. Learn more about ways to optimize your brain health from AARP’s Global Council on Brain Health. Research has shown physical exercise, a heart-healthy diet, limiting alcohol intake, getting good sleep, mood management, and staying socially and mentally active optimize brain health.