Startling new research from a Mayo Clinic study shows forgetfulness may be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s Disease — and not just a symptom of aging.
The Mayo Clinic study was organized by a group of researchers, including Dr. Walter Rocca. The study focused on tracking 1600 people who were in their 70s and 80s. The purpose of the study was to find what percentage of the participants would develop Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), a disorder characterized by mild memory problems and other neurological issues.
The researchers were astounded by the study’s results.
According to the Mayo Clinic study, MCI is occurring at a rate of 5%, which is significantly higher than the original 1-2% these researchers had expected. This higher rate means that, as the baby boomer population ages, the U.S. must prepare for many more cases of MCI — and potentially more cases of Alzheimer’s disease.
But is MCI always a signal that Alzheimer’s disease will also develop?
Not always. While it still isn’t completely clear how often someone with MCI lapses into Alzheimer’s disease, some previous research has shown that as many as 15% of MCI sufferers will end up with Alzheimer’s disease.
And without early diagnosis and effective treatments, that number can grow even higher.
According to the ARPF, knowing the symptoms of both disorders is important, so that people may receive early diagnosis and treatment.
Symptoms of MCI include:
- Problems with memory
- Other neurological impairment such as problems with language, motor functions, and sensations
To understand the differences in the two disorders, it’s vital to know that the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease also include:
- Difficulty thinking and making decisions
- Daily actions are impaired
- Personality and mood changes
- Loss of memory and poor judgment
Alzheimer’s disease affects long-term memory and normal cognitive functions. Plus, the symptoms are much more severe than in MCI.
With MCI, someone can function in daily living situations, but they may have trouble remembering something they just learned or a recent event.
Understanding the differences between Alzheimer’s disease and MCI is just the first step to helping the aging population.
It’s important to have an early MCI or Alzheimer’s diagnosis so treatment can be started right away. It is possible to repair and rebuild a person’s cognitive capabilities with a combination of diet, exercise and medicine. Of course, the best course is actually MCI or Alzheimer’s prevention.