Lifewatch: Mild Cognitive Impairment

MINNEAPOLIS -- For the better part of ten years, doctors have known about a condition called mild cognitive impairment, which is a pre-cursor to Alzheimer's.

But, doctors didn't know how widespread it was until now.  What is so clear on x-rays is only just now becoming clear to researchers.

Mayo Clinic doctors have discovered a degenerative brain condition they call mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and it is now dramatically more common in older Americans.

Doctors describe the condition as being more than a senior moment, like forgetting where you parked your car.

But, they also say it is far less severe than full-blown dementia, which is forgetting what a car is, or even what it's for.

Mayo researchers tested 2,000 healthy seniors in Olmsted County between the ages of 70 and 89.

What was shocking is that after the first year, more than 5% had developed MCI.

The risk increased with age, and men were twice as likely the victims.  The results mean upwards of a million seniors a year could contract the disease.

Dementia and Alzheimer's leave many elderly Americans dependent upon their families with expensive medical care.

According to Doctor Walter Rocca, there is no treatment available for MCI.

Reported by Kristy Ondo