Mild cognitive impairment–amnestic type (MCI-AT) is mild, repeated memory loss. It lies between the normal memory loss of aging and the more serious conditions of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. MCI-AT only involves problems with memory.

People with MCI-AT who are over age 65 have a higher chance of developing dementia and Alzheimer's. However, many people with MCI-AT never develop these disorders. Some even return to normal.

Areas of the Brain

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The causes are not clear. However, genetic factors may be a cause.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of developing MCI-AT include:

  • Family history of MCI-AT, dementia, or Alzheimer's
  • Medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, head injury, depression, anxiety, or infections
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Overmedication
  • Substance abuse
  • Research also suggests that these may be risk factors for MCI-AT:

  • Smoking
  • Lack of social contact
  • Low educational level
  • Excessive response to stress
  • Poor nutrition and lack of vitamins
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Symptoms

    The main symptom is frequent, ongoing memory loss beyond what is normally expected for your age. That means having more than small lapses of memory. If you have MCI-AT, you may:

  • Remember much less of what you have just read or seen than people who have only the normal memory changes of aging
  • Take longer to recall information
  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may also talk with family members and caregivers. Tests may include:

  • Memory and cognitive skill tests
  • Blood tests
  • Lumbar puncture—to test the protective fluid around the brain and spinal cord for possible causes
  • Imaging tests take pictures of internal bodily structures. This can be done with:

  • MRI scan
  • PET scan
  • SPECT scan
  • Treatment

    Treatment is focused on:

  • Preventing, or at least slowing down, further loss of memory and other cognitive abilities using     
  • Cognitive intervention
  • Occupational therapy
  • Preventing dementia and Alzheimer's disease
  • Medications

    Researchers are currently studying the effects that several medications may have on slowing cognitive decline. These include:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors
  • Mood stabilizers
  • Prevention

    To help reduce your chance of developing MCI-AT:

  • Manage medical conditions, especially high blood pressure
  • Manage psychiatric conditions, such as depression
  • Stay mentally active by doing things like memory exercises, crossword puzzles, reading, and taking classes
  • Get regular exercise
  • Participate in social activities
  • Reduce stress
  • Eat a healthful diet