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Mild Cognitive Impairment

  [ 21 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By 1999 Progressive Report from the NIA/NIH • • December 13, 1999

Individuals who have a memory problem but who do not meet the generally accepted clinical criteria for AD are considered to have mild cognitive impairment (MCI). They are becoming an increasingly important group for AD researchers because it is now known that about 40 percent of them will develop AD within 3 years.

A recent study, conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's Disease Center/Alzheimer's Disease Patient Registry in Rochester, Minnesota, broke new ground in this area by confirming that MCI is a distinct clinical entity different from mild AD and from normal age-related changes in memory (Petersen et al., 1999). This study involved three groups: healthy older people, people with MCI, and patients with mild AD. The groups were followed over time and compared on demographic factors and on several different measures of cognitive function.

Results showed that the main difference between the healthy study participants and those with MCI was in memory abilities. The MCI participants and the AD patients had similar memory impairments, very much worse than the healthy participants, but the AD patients had other cognitive impairments as well.

Over time, the cognitive performance of individuals with MCI declined more rapidly than that of the healthy participants and more slowly than that of the AD patients. However, some patients diagnosed with MCI did not progress to AD, suggesting that the MCI group is composed of two subgroups, only one of which is sure to progress to AD. The findings from this study will enhance clinicians' ability to diagnose this particular impairment as well as AD and has provided a firm foundation for NIA's new Memory Impairment Study.

National Institutes of Health
National Institute on Aging

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