New Research & Studies on Mild Cognitive Impairment

For those suffering from forms of memory loss and a decrease in cognitive function, it can be frightening to wonder if a diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) could be the reason why. Most diagnoses are based on a variety of factors, including a decline in memory and mental function, worsening symptoms over time, and a firm non-diagnosis of dementia. Additional analysis may come from mental status testing, neurological exams, and brain imaging. However, because there is no conclusive exam that determines a precise diagnosis of MCI, it’s important to stay abreast of new research, studies, and therapies that may benefit patients in the management of MCI. 

Ruling Out Other Causes of Mild Cognitive Impairment

The first step is to visit your neurologist or care provider to make them aware of any memory loss or cognitive issues. Due to the elusive nature of Mild Cognitive Impairment, your physician may investigate other underlying causes of MCI that may trigger the typical symptoms. Some cases of cognitive disorders are due to certain medications used to treat anxiety, allergies, pain, reflux, and sleep disturbances. Aside from medications, some other symptoms of Mild Cognitive Impairment can be triggered by high blood pressure, depression, and sleep apnea. Your doctor will likely eliminate every possibility before making a firm diagnosis of MCI. 

Dietary Research Studies 

Once a diagnosis has been made, the next step is to make a decision about how symptoms will be managed. Since there is no medication specifically designed to treat Mild Cognitive Impairment, the best way to achieve the greatest possible outcome is to adapt to lifestyle changes. There are numerous studies that have confirmed dietary changes affect the progression of MCI, and have even reduced the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease over time. One particular study affiliated with the Mayo Clinic indicated that patients who consumed a Mediterranean diet had a reduced risk of conversion to Alzheimer’s disease. Another promising study discovered the addition of omega-3 fatty acids and fish into the diets of those with cognitive impairment reduced the risk of additional cognitive decline. 

Exercise Therapy

More evidence from numerous research studies shows that aerobic exercise improves executive function in adults with cognitive impairments. A randomized trial from the American Academy of Neurology found that aerobic exercise, along with the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet resulted in significant improvements in executive function in adults with cognitive impairment without dementia. Promising data from the University of British Columbia is showing that resistance training, along with aerobic exercise, enhances cognitive performance in seniors with Mild Cognitive Impairment, as well as healthy seniors. Ideally, different types of exercise prove beneficial for those with MCI and can result in improved memory function according to a study from the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology. 

Brain Training and Intellectual Stimulation for MCI

Keeping the brain active and challenged is crucial in slowing the development of Mild Cognitive Impairment. As such, many studies have revealed that certain therapies have proven to be successful in the enhancement of cognition in MCI patients. One trial reported that using Computerized Cognitive Training is effective on global cognition, select cognitive domains, and psychosocial functioning in those with Mild Cognitive Impairment. Other therapies such as cognitive training, cognitive rehabilitation, and cognitive stimulation have been studied to indicate improvements in cognitive function. 

Staying engaged and socially active is also beneficial to slow the progression of cognitive disorders. As one study states, “promoting social engagement among people with mild cognitive impairment should be considered as an effective and efficient intervention that can prevent dementia.” Other findings include slowing of cognitive decline with consistent social engagement through group activities, volunteering, and religious activities. 

Another way to keep the brain engaged is through brain and memory training. Stalling the decline in cognitive abilities is what most studies hope to prove, and one pilot study saw benefits over a two-year period for subjective and objective memory function. 

Variety is Optimal in Reducing Progression of MCI

Above all, a combined approach of a healthy diet, varied exercise, and consistent intellectual stimulation is considered the most optimal in the attempt to slow the progression of Mild Cognitive Impairment. Staying physically, socially, and emotionally active, while maintaining a diet rich in nutrients and low in fat is the best course of action thus far. Routine visits to your health care provider are also recommended, as MCI can be an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease, and needs to be monitored regularly to observe the progression of symptoms.  

The expert care provided by Dr. Michael Tuchman at Palm Beach Neurological Center is focused on the diagnosis, treatment, and research of neurological disorders and diseases, such as Mild Cognitive Impairment. We have provided our patients with empathic care and compassionate support for over 30 years. You can reach Palm Beach Neurological Center at (561) 694-1010.

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