If I Have Mild Cognitive Impairment, Does That Mean I'm Going To Develop Dementia Or Alzheimer's Disease?

Dr. Petersen answers the question: 'Cognitive Impairment And Dementia Risk?

May 4, 2009 -- Question: If I have mild cognitive impairment, does that mean I'm going to develop dementia or Alzheimer's disease?

Answer: Generally speaking, when a person is diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment they do have an increased risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer's disease in the coming years. However, it is not a foregone conclusion. In general, people with mild cognitive impairment will progress on to dementia or Alzheimer's disease at a rate of maybe 8-10-12 percent per year.

However, a significant proportion of those individuals may remain quite stable with mild memory problems for many years. And an even smaller proportion but a significant number of people may actually improve; so that they had sort of a bad day at one point in time but actually their memory improves over time.

So, in general, mild cognitive impairment does mean you are at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease but it is not necessarily the case.