How is mild cognitive impairment diagnosed?
Common symptoms of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) include problems with memory, reasoning, attention and language.
Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is usually considered after a patient reports concerns or symptoms, which can then be confirmed by a healthcare professional.
It is important for the doctor to decide whether a person is experiencing MCI, normal ageing or dementia. This is done by assessing the severity of the symptoms and looking for the underlying causes of the condition.
Initially, a doctor may ask a person with suspected MCI to describe their symptoms, when the symptoms started and how they may be affecting the person’s everyday life. A general health check may be carried out to gain a better picture of any underlying health issues, to see whether these may be contributing to symptoms of MCI.
The diagnosis is based on:
- Neurological tests, which may analyse reflexes, senses, eye movement and the eyes’ reaction to light
- Cognitive tests, which may take the form of interviews, as well as tests for memory, reasoning, attention, language and visual functions.
There may be times when a doctor is required to refer patients with suspected MCI to a specialist. This may be for blood tests and brain imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.
If you or someone you know is experiencing MCI symptoms it is important to visit a doctor. Diagnosing MCI is important as it allows patients and healthcare professionals to take action before symptoms worsen. People with MCI have a higher risk of developing dementia; thus, an earlier diagnosis will enable them to seek out information and advice on how to best manage their symptoms and prevent them from worsening.
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