Expert consensus published on Mild Cognitive Impairment

Knowledge

Brand new consensus guidance around Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) has been developed by a group of experts in Manchester. The consensus was published on 17th November by a collaboration across the NHS, voluntary sector, pharmaceutical industry and academia.

Spearheaded by the University of Manchester and Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership through its Dementia United programme, the work gives a fresh focus on how MCI should be recognised, diagnosed, and treated.

MCI is an umbrella term given to a noticeable and measurable change in a person’s memory or thinking, which does not interfere with activities of their daily life. Currently the syndrome is diagnosed based on symptoms alone.

Around ten to 15 percent of those living with MCI go on to develop dementia per year, whilst a significant proportion will remain stable or improve, making this confusing and challenging for patients and doctors alike.

This new review lays out three key areas to consider as we think and deal with MCI.

  • MCI should be recognised as a clinical syndrome caused by different underlying diseases.
  • Clinicians should try their best to provide patients with an explanation for their symptoms. This will vary from patient to patient, but in many cases it may be appropriate to use scans, lumbar punctures and other tests to try and make as accurate and early diagnosis as possible.
  • There should be national guidance on dealing with MCI to provide consistency to clinicians and the patients they treat.

Any future treatments are likely to need to be given early in the disease process, making a strategy for dealing with MCI even more important.

The authors also recommend that those with MCI should be routinely offered the opportunity to participate in clinical trials and other research studies, citing the national ‘Join Dementia Research’ service, which is partnered with Alzheimer’s Research UK and Alzheimer’s Society.

Dr Ross Dunne

Clinical Director, Greater Manchester Dementia Research Centre

Dr Ross Dunne, Consultant psychiatrist from Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, and lead faculty for Dementia Academy, said:

“Currently we don’t use biological markers from blood or spinal fluids to help give a diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). We recommend that this should be brought in early in the process to help resolve cases and shed light on the underlying diseases at play.

“What we really need to see is national guidance to ensure that people with MCI receive the same treatment wherever they are in the country, and this should involve a strategy for allowing people to get involved in research. A national plan would help support people across the UK who are experiencing these symptoms, create consistency in how we diagnose MCI and accelerate research into better treatments.’

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