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Mild Cognitive Impairment

Just like the rest of our body, our brain changes as we age. Forgetfulness is just one aspect that comes with these changes. When one’s memory or function declines, it may point to a condition known as mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Patients with MCI experience problems relating to memory, language, thinking and judgment. The condition is usually benign and are not severe as it typically do not interfere with one’s daily life and routine.

However, there are red flags that one should look out for:

  • Forgetting things more often than before
  • Forgetting important events such as social gatherings or appointments
  • Losing train of thought in the middle of a conversation
  • Feeling overwhelmed when making decisions or plans
  • Forgetting your way around otherwise familiar environments
  • Behavioral or mood changes; usually with impulse

What is the link between MCI and Dementia?

Persons with MCI face an increased risk of developing dementia – in particular, Alzheimer’s disease. A 2017 study shows that about 15% of MCI cases in adults above 65 years old do go on to develop dementia1. However, there are also others whose conditions remain stable for years.

How can we prevent MCI?

There is no definitive way to prevent MCI. However, there are studies which show that optimizing one’s health and lifestyle can make a difference.

Medical conditions such as high blood pressure (hypertension) as well as diabetes, stroke and other heart-related problems have been associated with an increased risk of MCI and dementia. High cholesterol, obesity and mental wellness are also possible risk factors that should be managed well to prevent MCI.

To further reduce the risks of MCI, individuals are encouraged to:

  • Not smoke
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a regular and healthy sleep cycle
  • Adopt a nutrient-rich diet with fruits and vegetables
  • Keep the mind stimulated through reading, puzzles or other brain-training games such as Sudoku etc.


1 Armstrong, M. J., Peterson, R. C., Lopez, O., Getchius, T. S. D., Ganguli, M., Gloss, D., Gronseth, G. S., Mason, D., Pringsheim, T., Day, G. S., Sager, M., Stevens, J., Rae-Grant, A. 2018. Practice guideline update summary: Mild cognitive impairment. Neurology. 2018;90:1-10. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000004826


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