Mild cognitive impairment (MCI)

7. How can someone minimise the risk of MCI and dementia?

Many studies have shown that age is the most important risk factor for both MCI and dementia. Genes play an important role as well, most clearly for Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia.

Similarly, several aspects of a person's health and lifestyle are thought to influence their chances of developing MCI as they age. Medical conditions, such as high blood pressure in mid-life, as well as diabetes, stroke and heart problems, are all closely linked to a higher risk of both MCI and dementia. A high level of cholesterol in mid-life, obesity in mid-life and a history of depression are also probable risk factors. It is important that these conditions are diagnosed and well managed.

Everyone can reduce their risk of MCI and dementia as they get older by not smoking, drinking only in moderation, eating a healthy, balanced diet and taking regular and appropriate physical exercise.

There is growing evidence that exercising the mind as well as the body can also help reduce the risk of MCI and dementia. Leisure activities that keep your mind active, such as card games, puzzles or reading, may build up a 'reserve capacity' in the brain that can help prevent or delay the onset of MCI and dementia. Keeping socially active may also help to reduce risk.