I often run into one of two questions from readers who've received an MCI diagnosis: "Am I going to get Alzheimer’s?" And, "Is MCI reversible?" In a new explainer page, a deep dive report, and an expert Live Talk, we tackle these questions head on.
Since launching Being Patient, I’ve spoken with and interviewed many people who are just beginning to lose their memory. If it is something more serious than just normal aging, most patients are given the diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. Typically there are two questions patients have after diagnosis: Am I going to get Alzheimer’s? And, Is MCI reversible?
There is obviously much confusion at this early stage and from my experience of talking to people who have been diagnosed, the confusion usually comes because doctors are more comfortable with diagnosing MCI than Alzheimer’s, in part because the tools, experience and expertise they typically have at hand allows for cognitive assessments, but not scanning for Alzheimer’s biomarkers like beta-amyloid plaque or tau tangles. (This will most likely change as more practitioners are using new and developing blood tests to diagnose Alzheimer’s.)
There’s also a great deal of MCI that goes undiagnosed, which according to experts like Dr. Marwan Sabbagh, may happen when doctors dismiss patients’ concerns about their cognitive health instead of digging a bit deeper.
We have dedicated a lot of time to sorting out questions you have around MCI, and now, we’ve launched an explainer page on the topic. We’ve also spoken with UCSF’s Dr. Emily Paollilo, who, in a new Brain Talk, takes us through the play-by-play of MCI diagnosis and shares what other things — aside from Alzheimer’s — can cause MCI. The good news, as Being Patient reporter Simon Spichack notes in this week’s MCI deep dive: Depending on the underlying cause, some cases of MCI are entirely reversible.
Please also take time to watch our interview with retired psychotherapist Leah Fisher, who tells us about her MCI journey, including her early signs and diagnosis experience. Expert advice combined with patient perspective is Being Patient’s secret sauce — and we hope to be a valuable resource to anyone just setting out down this path.
New MCI resources: Mild Cognitive Impairment 1o1
Check out our explainer page for MCI resources including symptoms, causes, and more.