MCI: An Indicator of Alzheimer's, Cerebral Vascular Disease

Seems conventional medicine is coming around once again to my view that Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging. In fact, not even mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in seniors should be disregarded as merely part of the aging process either, as it appears to be a prime indicator of Alzheimer's or cerebral vascular disease, according to a new study.

This study followed 180 patients (all Catholic priests, nuns or brothers) until they developed mild cognitive impairments or dementia, and eventually died. Participants took various tests (memory, language, attention and other cognitive abilities) annually to document their clinical status. A MCI diagnosis was made when impaired performance on these tests was not severe enough to warrant a diagnosis of dementia.

After a patient died, researchers measured the amount of Alzheimer's disease pathology and strokes through brain autopsy. Of the 37 individuals who developed MCI, more than half (23) met pathologic criteria for Alzheimer's disease, and nearly a third had cerebral infarcts. Less than a fourth had neither. Both clinically and pathologically, mild cognitive impairment patients are in the middle in terms of the disease process for Alzheimer's disease and cerebral vascular disease, scientists said.

One positive finding from the study: A third of the patients (with an average age of 85) did not experience cognitive decline over several years of follow-up, even though about half of them had significant Alzheimer's disease pathology and nearly a quarter had cerebral vascular disease.

If you don't believe Alzheimer's will touch you or your family sometime down the road, guess again! Experts estimate Alzheimer's will affect nearly 8 million people in this country alone by 2030. Since, it is such a difficult disease to treat and there doesn't appear to be a cure in the near future, your best bet to addressing this disease is to take proactive preventive measures that minimize your risk of ever developing it in the first place.

Consider these guidelines that will protect your body from the ravages of Alzheimer's without taking a drug:

Neurology Vol. 64:834-841 March 8, 2005

Science Daily March 17, 2005

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