There is an estimated 46.8 million people worldwide living with dementia in 2015. This number will almost double every 20 years, reaching 74.7 million in 2030.
Dementia is not a specific disease. It is an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the second most common dementia type. But there are many other conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia, including some that are reversible, such as thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies.
Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) causes a slight but noticeable and measurable decline in cognitive abilities, including memory and thinking skills. MCI increases the risk of later developing dementia. A follow-up study was made in the US with 600 people who were diagnosed MCI to find out how many would develop dementia. The result within 5 years showed that about 50% developed dementia, 40% was staying the same or never get worse, but the rest 10% returned to normal for their age. Early diagnosis of MCI is critical because it may delay or even prevent the onset of dementia. The stage of MCI is the last chance to prevent dementia.
A new study says that a simple test that measures how fast people walk and whether they have any cognitive complaints can analyze MCI. This involves measuring gait speed – our manner of walking – as well as asking a few simple questions about a patient’s cognitive abilities, both of which take just a few seconds. A walking speed slower than 60 to 80cm per second (about 48 m per minute), and unbalanced walking might suggest Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).