New research has found that people with mild cognitive impairment may not inevitably develop dementia and, in fact, having higher education and advanced language skills more than doubles their chances of returning to normal.
The study, led by researchers at the University of Waterloo, may reassure those with mild cognitive impairment as it contradicts a common assumption that the condition is simply an early stage of dementia. People with mild cognitive impairment show signs of cognitive decline, but not enough to prevent them from performing typical daily tasks. They have been considered at higher risk of progressing to the more severe cognitive decline seen in dementia.
The study also found that language skills, whether reflected in high grades in English in school or in strong writing that was grammatically complex and full of ideas, were also protective.
The researchers discovered that almost one-third of 472 women diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment reverted to normal cognition at least once over an average of eight-and-a-half years following their diagnosis, with more than 80 per cent of them never developing dementia.
Almost another third of the total number progressed to dementia without ever reverting to normal cognition, while three per cent stayed in the mild cognitive impairment stage, and 36 per cent died. None of the participants reverted from dementia to mild cognitive impairment.
The researchers also highlighted that reverse transitions are much more common than progressing to dementia in relatively younger individuals who didn’t carry a certain genetic risk factor and had high levels of education and language skills.
Release date: 03 March 2022
Source: University of Waterloo