The moment you’re diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. What does this mean for you and your family? Will your symptoms soon progress into the development of dementia? If you have recently been diagnosed with MCI, try to remain calm and focus on the ways in which you can better your circumstance.
At this point in time, there is no cure for MCI, just as there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. Research has uncovered some incredible aspects of Alzheimer’s disease and as possible interventions are developed, they will more than likely be tested on individuals who suffer from MCI as well. If clinical trials in the future are shown to be successful, this will increase the importance of an early diagnosis.
Possible MCI Treatments and Medication:
Although there is no cure at this time, there are possible treatment which can reduce certain symptoms and in some cases, potentially reduce the progression of one’s condition. Just like Alzheimer’s, it’s possible that patients with MCI may benefit from doses of antioxidants, cholinesterase inhibitors, and vitamins.
One vitamin in particular – vitamin B, may actually help reduce the progression of Alzheimer’s. In a two-year trial, 168 elderly people were either given vitamin B pills or a placebo – then took part in an MRI scan. What the researchers found, was that those who consumed a regular dose of vitamin B, experienced 30 percent less brain shrinkage.
The three vitamins taken included folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. These vitamins inhibit the production of homocysteine – which is often associated with dementia, poor cognition, and cardiovascular disease. It’s important to note that this does not necessarily mean that B vitamins will prevent or improve symptoms of MCI, however, it is a promising start.
Once you are diagnosed, you will be encouraged to focus on your lifestyle. Although no treatments are known to cure MCI, making positive changes could potentially help you recover. The first key area to focus on is your diet. A Mediterranean diet has long been suggested as a possible preventative measure.
The food you consume is directly in your control and since there is such a significant link between cardiovascular health and cognitive functioning, it’s critical to take care of your physical health, in order to protect your brain.
In one study, it was found that those who adhered to a Mediterranean diet, had a 48 percent less risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Researchers determined that those who followed this diet experienced a reduced chance of developing MCI and in turn, MCI eventually converting into Alzheimer’s.
It’s also important to regularly exercise, manage stress, quit smoking, and control conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. In most cases, patients with MCI will not receive any medication. Instead, they will be closely monitored to ensure that symptoms do not progress.
The best thing you can do to better your situation, is to learn how to effectively cope with your symptoms. Be patient with yourself and ask your family to be supportive during this difficult time. Also, continue to keep your mind active and maintain a positive attitude.
Scarmeas, N, et al. (2009). Mediterranean Diet and Mild Cognitive Impairment. Arch Neurol. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19204158