Mild cognitive impairment–amnestic type (MCI-AT) is mild, repeated memory loss. It lies between the normal memory loss of aging and the more serious conditions of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) . MCI-AT only involves problems with memory. Dementia and Alzheimer's involve loss of other cognitive abilities, such as:

  • Learning
  • Reasoning
  • Making decisions
  • Problems with confusion, language, and attention

People with MCI-AT who are over age 65 have a higher chance of developing dementia and Alzheimer's. However, many people with MCI-AT never develop these disorders. Some even revert to normal.

Some Areas of the Brain Affected by Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease

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The causes are not clear. However, genetic factors may be a cause.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.

Risk factors include:

Research also suggests that these may be risk factors for MCI-AT:

  • Lack of physical activity
  • Lack of social contact
  • Low educational level
  • Excessive response to stress
  • Poor nutrition and lack of vitamins
  • Exposure to toxins


The main symptom is frequent, ongoing memory loss beyond what is normally expected for one’s age. That means having more than small lapses of memory. If you have MCI-AT, you may:

  • Remember much less of what you have just read or seen than people who have only the normal memory changes of aging
  • Take longer to recall information


The doctor will:

  • Ask about your symptoms and medical history
  • Perform a physical exam
  • Perform tests to measure your cognitive skills, including memory

The doctor may also talk with family members and caregivers. If you have this condition, you should have your cognitive abilities tested regularly.


Treatment is focused:

  • Preventing, or at least slowing down, further loss of memory and other cognitive abilities
  • Preventing dementia and Alzheimer's disease

Researchers are currently studying the effects that several medications may have on slowing cognitive decline. These include:


The following are being studied as ways to reduce the risk of cognitive decline:

  • Managing medical conditions that may lead to MCI-AT, especially high blood pressure
  • Getting treatment for depression and hypothyroidism
  • Staying mentally active by doing things like memory exercises, crossword puzzles, reading, taking classes
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Participating in social activities
  • Reducing stress
  • Getting help for emotional problems
  • Eating a healthful diet