Mild Cognitive Impairment



The causes are not clear. It may be caused by early brain changes of dementia or Alzheimer disease.

Risk Factors

MCI is more common in people over 65 years of age. Things that may raise your risk are:

  • Family history of MCI, dementia, or Alzheimer disease
  • Smoking
  • Health problems, such as depression, diabetes, and stroke
  • Inactivity
  • Low levels of vitamin D



Symptoms may be:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Irritability
  • Lack of emotion
  • Getting upset easily
  • Problems making decisions
  • Forgetting how to do tasks


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. Cognitive tests will also be done. The doctor may also talk with family members and caregivers.

More tests may be done to confirm the diagnosis. For example:

  • Blood tests may be done to look for genetic mutations.
  • A lumbar puncture may also be done to check the fluid around the brain and spine.
  • Images may be taken of the brain. This can be done with an MRI or CT scan .



Treatment is aimed at managing symptoms. Healthy habits can ease impact of symptoms. Steps may include:

  • Cognitive training to improve memory and function
  • Getting light exercise
  • Eating a healthful diet that includes fish


Healthy habits may lower the risk of MCI in some people. This means exercising, eating a healthful diet, not smoking, and staying mentally active.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.