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Assessment and treatment for mild cognitive impairment (MCI)

Posted on Thursday, 12 January 2012, in Dementia & Memory, Treatments & Therapy

What is mild cognitive impairment (MCI)?

Symptoms and treatment of MCI

Mild cognitive impairment is a general term applied to people who have some loss of memory but do not have dementia. The memory loss is observable to the person with mild cognitive impairment and to those around them, and may be diagnosed through testing, but there are no other symptoms of dementia present.

What causes mild cognitive impairment?

It is important to stress that, while everyone has problems remembering things from time to time, particularly as they get older, they normally score adequately on memory tests so cannot be regarded as suffering from MCI.

There are many reasons why someone would experience a memory loss strong enough to be diagnosed with MCI, including stress, depression or a physical condition (examples include high blood pressure and sleep apnoea).

Some people with MCI may, however, be in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, and this is why correct and early diagnosis is important.

Symptoms of mild cognitive impairment

Cognitive function includes faculties such as the ability to learn, read, speak and write. People with MCI do not lose these abilities but they have problems with their short-term memory. They may forget the names of people they have just met or conversations they had a short time ago, while remembering distant events very clearly. They often forget appointments and may find it difficult to follow the thread of a book or film. They may become more irritable than usual, and lose their way even in a familiar environment.

If you think you may need treatment,
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The importance of specialist diagnosis

According to the Alzheimer’s Society studies carried out in memory clinics showed that 10-15% of people with mild cognitive impairment went on to develop dementia in each year that the research results were followed up.

For this reason, it is very important to diagnose people with MCI. The earlier they are diagnosed the easier it is for doctors to keep an eye on them so that if they develop dementia symptoms they can be treated early.

On the other hand, many people with MCI regain their memory or remain stable with no progression of the symptoms.

Treatment of MCI

There is no specific treatment for MCI, but in cases where the impairment is a precursor of Alzheimer’s disease, medications intended for Alzheimer’s disease may be effective.

For underlying conditions that may give rise to MCI, such as depression, sleep apnoea and high blood pressure, treating the main condition usually improves the MCI symptoms.

How Clinical Partners can help

Simply call our clinical team in confidence on 0203 326 9160 and we will recommend the most suitable therapist or support group for your individual situation.

Read more about the Clinical Partners Approach to Assessment and Diagnosis.


Emilie Head

Emilie Head Business Development and Content Editor BA(Hons), ACMA, MBACP

Emilie has three main roles at Clinical Partners – managing our NHS Partnerships, developing the services our Clinicians offer and writing and editing web content.

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