According to the CDC, there are as much as 16 million people in the United States that are affected by cognitive impairment. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization takes up data a notch and estimates that as much as 35 million people worldwide are suffering from cognitive issues. What these numbers show is that almost half of the cases of cognitive issues are from the United States.
Essentially, what this clearly demonstrates is how there remains to be much difficulty in preventing or treating this condition. The longer that the condition is left undiagnosed and untreated, the faster its debilitating effects can take over the life of the patient.
With this condition, the ability to have a firm grasp and focus on a particular task at hand suddenly becomes practically impossible, and functions that one would carry out on a daily basis, including even the most basic tasks such as feeding oneself, becomes impossible, thereby drastically reducing the quality of life.
While the symptoms are easily noticeable, it can also be mistaken for something else, or be attributed to a simple passing phase. A person experiencing fogginess or forgetfulness may be quick to say that it’s just because they haven’t had a good night’s rest for the past several nights, or that they are stressed from work. By the time they go for a complete diagnosis, the symptoms and the condition itself may have already worsened.
Thanks to a recent study published in the Radiology journal, however, it now appears that it may soon be possible to use MRI as a biomarker for very early diagnosis of preclinical dementia.
The study focused on the arterial spin labeling, an MRI technique to measure brain perfusion or penetration of blood into the tissue. Those with decreased perfusions detected with ASL MRI has been found to have a higher probability of maintaining their cognitive status, albeit temporarily. Nonetheless, it is indeed an optimistic development, especially when it could very well replace the fluorodeoxyglucose PET that is used to measure brain metabolism.
Mild Cognitive Impairment, Mayo Clinic
Cognitive Impairment: A Call for Action, Now!, CDC