Mild cognitive impairment in older people is not a normal part of growing old but rather appears to be an indicator of Alzheimers disease or cerebral vascular disease, according to a study published in the March 8 issue of the journal, Neurology.
"The study shows that mild cognitive impairment is often the earliest clinical manifestation of one or both of two common age-related neurologic diseases," said Dr. David A. Bennett, director of the Rush Alzheimers Disease Center at Rush University Medical Center and the principal author of the paper. "From a clinical standpoint, even mild loss of cognitive function in older people should not be viewed as normal, but as an indication of a disease process," said Bennett.
This is the first study involving a large number of subjects who were followed until they developed mild cognitive impairment or dementia, and then died.. The study involved examining brain tissue from 180 people, including 37 with mild cognitive impairment, 60 without cognitive impairment, and the rest with dementia. All were Catholic nuns, priest or brothers who agreed to participate in the National Institute on Aging (NIA) funded Religious Orders Study. Since 1993 more than 1000 persons have agreed to annual clinical evaluations and to donate their brains to the Rush investigators at the time of death.
John Pontarelli | EurekAlert!
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