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Mild Cognitive Impairment: New Diagnosis

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 4, 2024.

What is mild cognitive impairment (MCI)?

MCI is a condition that causes problems with your memory, attention, and ability to think clearly. You may have problems in only one of these areas, or in all of them. These problems are common with aging, but MCI causes problems that are more than should be expected in a person your age. These problems are frustrating, but they are not severe enough to stop your activities of daily living. Rarely, MCI may go away, and your thinking may return to normal. MCI may instead get worse and develop into dementia. Dementia is a condition that causes severe loss of memory, thought control, and judgment. Alzheimer disease is the most common cause of dementia.

What increases my risk for MCI?

What are the signs and symptoms of MCI?

MCI does not cause problems with your ability to function socially or at work. You or someone close to you will realize you can no longer easily do at least one of the following:

How is MCI diagnosed?

Your provider will first rule out certain possible causes. For example, some medicines or combinations you are taking may cause symptoms similar to MCI. CT or MRI pictures may show an injury, infection, or inflammation in your brain. Blood tests may be used to check for a lack of certain vitamins or for high levels of certain metals or chemicals. A sleep study may show if you have sleep apnea or poor sleep. If these tests are negative, your provider may use any of the following to confirm MCI:

What can I do to manage MCI?

The goal is to prevent MCI from getting worse and progressing to dementia. Ask about these and other ways to manage MCI:

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.