Study Finds That Mild Cognitive Impairment Generally Disappears

Nikki Attkisson | Last Updated : December 4, 2021

A new study suggests that a diagnosis of a mild cognitive impairment may not necessarily be a stepping stone to dementia.

Almost half of all the seniors that were tracked in the study did not have a mild cognitive impairment a few years after the initial diagnosis.

Study Finds That Mild Cognitive Impairment Generally Disappears

In order to understand what factors may be important to a person’s risk for dementia, this study was conducted.

Jennifer Manly, the lead author of the study said that they wanted to gain more knowledge about the early stages of dementia. They added that this may be a potential time window to prevent or intervene in dementia.

Study Finds That Mild Cognitive Impairment Generally Disappears

She is a professor at Columbia University which is located in New York City.

A diverse group of Americans participated in the study. She explained that previously, most of these studies of mild cognitive impairment only included white older adults who sought the help of a doctor who specialized in disorders of memory.

She said that the fact that people who have mild cognitive impairment are a varied group is highlighted by the findings. She said that in the short term, not all of them will develop dementia.

She added that this suggests that mild cognitive impairment must not be seen as an early stage of dementia and that it should be looked at as a higher risk classification instead.

She added that the predictors of mild cognitive impairment, interestingly, are not the same factors that predict the progression of mild cognitive impairment to dementia.

Over 2,900 participants were followed by the researchers for the study. Their average age was around 75. They were followed for around 6 years.

752 participants were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment during the period of research. When participants reported problems with memory or thinking, they were diagnosed when a test showed that they had cognitive impairment.

According to the study, problems were faced by the participants in lesser than 3 tasks. This included shopping or handling medications. They were still able to perform daily activities.

480 of these participants had a follow-up assessment. 13% of these participants were diagnosed with dementia 2 years later.

Mild cognitive impairment was faced by another 30% of them, but they did not have dementia.

There was a decline in mental functions in about 10% of them, but they did not meet the criteria to be diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment of dementia.

During a follow-up visit which was conducted about 2.4 years later, almost half of these people who had mild cognitive impairment previously did not have any conditions.

Researchers, among the modifiable risks that predicted a smaller chance of developing mild cognitive impairment, found that a huge role is played by more years of education, and taking part in leisurely activities. 

This included visiting a friend, reading, or even going for a walk. A role was also played by a higher income.

It was found that there was a reduction of 5% in the chances of developing a mild cognitive impairment for those who participated in more leisure activities.

The use of antidepressants, symptoms of depression was among the predictors that increased the risk of developing dementia after being diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.

Compared to 7% who continued to have a mild cognitive impairment, 18% of the people who used antidepressants developed dementia, according to the findings.

Dr. Zaldy Tan said that mild cognitive impairment is really a mixed group of cases even though it has traditionally been thought of as a precursor to dementia.

She said that primary doctors must be alerted if anyone has any concerns about their memory so that a diagnosis can be made.

Nikki Attkisson

With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.

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