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Mild cognitive impairment common in elderly, Mayo Clinic finds

January 26, 2012
by Kevin Kolus
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More than 6 percent of Americans age 70 to 89 develop mild cognitive impairment (MCI) every year, according to new research released by the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging.

Also, the condition appears to affect men and those who only have a high school education more than women and those who have completed some higher education, the Mayo Clinic found. People with MCI are at the stage between suffering the normal forgetfulness associated with aging and developing dementia, such as that caused by Alzheimer's disease.

The study, published in the Jan. 25 issue of Neurology, reports that 296 of the 1,450 study participants developed MCI, an incidence rate of 6.4 percent per year overall. Among men, the incidence rate was 7.2 percent, compared with 5.7 percent per year for women.

"Understanding the distribution of incident MCI by age, sex and other demographic variables is critical to helping us understand the cause of the condition, as well as how to prevent MCI and its progression to full-blown, irreversible dementia," said lead author Rosebud O. Roberts of the Mayo Clinic Division of Epidemiology. "This study advances our understanding of MCI and will help clinicians provide even better care for their patients, especially during initial evaluations."

People with MCI have mild problems with thinking and memory that do not interfere with everyday activities, although their forgetfulness is often apparent to them and their friends and family. While not everyone with MCI develops dementia, an estimated 5 to 10 percent do.

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