Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is one of the earliest signs of the disease. This is the first stage when symptoms become apparent to individuals living with AD, their loved ones and their doctors.1,4 These early warning signs can include short-term memory loss, difficulty finding words, and/or losing track of the day or date. Other symptoms of MCI may include a decline in other thinking skills, such as the ability to make sound decisions or to judge the time and steps required to complete a task.1,4
These symptoms may indicate early stage Alzheimer’s disease – but they can be overlooked or dismissed as just part of getting older. Many general practitioners need more training and better tools to identify these early symptoms of AD, which may be difficult to differentiate from other conditions such as clinical depression or symptoms of a mild stroke.5
General Practitioners (GPs) or Primary Care Providers (PCPs) are often the first point of contact for people having problems with memory or another mental function. Core elements of the diagnostic process include:1,5
GPs/PCPs can then refer patients to a memory clinic, neurologists or other specialists for further tests. The earlier MCI due to AD is detected, the sooner a patient can be referred for testing to confirm a diagnosis of AD.6
A timely and accurate diagnosis of AD may bring several benefits to all people involved in this process:6
A healthy diet, regular exercise, social interactions and mental stimulation may help preserve brain health and cognitive functions.
1.Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s Association Report: 2020 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. Alzheimer’s Dement. 2020;16(3):391-460.
2.Morris JC, Blennow K, Froelich L, et al. Harmonized diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s disease: recommendations. J Intern Med. 2014;275(3):204-213.
3.Petersen RC. Mild cognitive impairment. Continuum (Minneap Minn). 2016;22(2):404-418.
4.Alzheimer’s Association: Mild Cognitive Impairment, https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-dementia/related_conditions/mild-cognitive-impairment. Accessed December 11, 2020.
5.Wilkinson D, et al (2004). The Role of General Practitioners in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease: A multinational Survey. Int Med Res. Mar-Apr 2004; 32 (2): 149-159.
6.Dubois B, Padovani A, Scheltens P, et al. Timely Diagnosis for Alzheimer's Disease: A Literature Review on Benefits and Challenges. J Alzheimers Dis. 2016;49(3):617-31.
7.Risk reduction of cognitive decline and dementia. WHO Guidelines. https://www.who.int/mental_health/neurology/dementia/guidelines_risk_reduction/en/. Accessed December 11, 2020.
8.Livingston G, Huntley J, Sommerlad A, et al. Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. Lancet. 2020 Aug 8;396(10248):413-446. Epub 2020 Jul 30.