When people first get diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, they have a whole bunch of questions.
Want to know what one of their biggest questions is? Just look at a Google search. Right at the top the most common searches you’ll find this one: “Is mild cognitive impairment reversible?”
The simple answer is yes.
Of course, like a lot of things in life, it’s not quite that simple.
But we’re learning more about MCI every day, and the more we know, the clearer it becomes that yes, mild cognitive impairment can be reversed, and the odds of reversing it are actually better than we thought.
That’s particularly true of a piece of relatively new research that offers some real encouragement, and that’s what I want to remind you of today.
Hi, I’m Tony Dearing, of GoCogno.com, the website for people with mild cognitive impairment.
Now, there’s a reason that people want to know if mild cognitive impairment can be reversed. I mean, what’s the alternative? To have it progress to dementia and get Alzheimer’s? That’s what people fear. Often, that’s what they assume. They think they’re doomed.
Well, I am here to tell you that you are not doomed. When cognitive impairment is caught at the MCI stage, there is still the potential to halt, delay or even reverse it, and the odds of those things are actually in your favor.
Early in 2019, I put up this post, and it immediately became the most-read thing I’ve ever published. The headline was “This expert says most people with MCI won’t progress to dementia anytime soon, and here’s why not.” If you haven’t seen it, you can read it here.
But here’s the short version on what it said. It involved a study at the University of Pittsburgh that followed nearly 900 people with MCI over 5 years, and found:
- 53% of them stabilized
- 35% reverted to cognitively normal or fluctuated between MCI and normal cognition
- Only 12% percent progressed to dementia
Soon after, along came another new study, published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, that offered more encouraging information.
There are a couple of reasons why it’s even more significant.
First of all, it’s a far larger study. It’s what’s called a meta-analysis that looked at 17 studies involving almost 7,000 people with MCI.
I know you want to know what those factors are, so here you go:
- Being of a younger age
- Having higher level of education
- Higher scores on cognitive tests like the MMSE
- Not having APOE4 gene
- Not having hypertension (or having it and being treated for it)
- Not having a history of stroke
If you fall in any or several of those categories, all the better for you. But they are not prerequisites. You can still reduce your risk even if you don’t.
No one can promise you that you’re going to halt or reverse your cognitive decline. You know that. You know that there are no guarantees. But it’s definitely possible. And at the very least, I want you to know that the odds are with you.
And that matters, because with knowledge comes hope, and with hope comes action. It gives you that chance to say, you know what, I got a shot here. All these things I’m being encouraged to do, maybe they’re worth a try.
If that’s where you’re at, or that’s where you’re getting to, please remember these two things. It’s never to late to start, and even the tiniest changes in health behavior add up over time, and make a big difference.
Thanks for joining me today. I hope to see you again next week. Until then, as always, be kind to your mind.