If performing complex cognitive tasks becomes a bore, it is best to seek medical help. Sometimes, tracking one's learning difficulties or other memory-related problems could be beneficial in detecting Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).

New research from the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging has suggested that more than six percent of all Americans between 70 and 89 develop MCI every year. The study noted that men, especially those with high school education, were more likely to be affected.

The study, published in the current issue of Neurology and published by the American Academy of Neurology, noted also that men were more susceptible to MCI than women.

MCI is a condition where people suffer a mild memory loss as part of the normal ageing process or as a precursor to dementia, as is seen with Alzheimer's disease.  The condition could lead to mild problems in thinking and memory retention, which need not impact everyday activities. However, in the long run, these bouts of forgetfulness get more obvious to friends and family members. The study notes said that while not all cases of MCI led to dementia, there was a 5 to 10 percent chance that those with MCI would suffer from dementia.

While incidence rates for MCI have been reported previously, ours is one of the few studies designed specifically to measure the incidence of MCI and its subtypes using published criteria, said lead author Rosebud O. Roberts, of the Mayo Clinic Division of Epidemiology. The statistically significant difference between incidence rates among men and women represents an important finding for those evaluating patients for MCI, Roberts added.

The study also showed that annually, new cases of dementia were higher in men - at 72 per 1,000 people compared to 57 per 1,000 people in women. The incidence was 64 per 1,000 people in men and women as a combined entity.

Other observations noted that MCI with memory loss present was more common at 38 per 1,000 people than MCI where memory loss was not present, which affected 15 per 1,000 people. Those who had less education or were not married also had higher rates of MCI.

Our study suggests that risk factors for mild cognitive impairment should be studied separately in men and women, said Roberts.

The study also looked at patients with MCI and observed incidences in those suffering from either developed amnestic MCI (aMCI), a condition that affects the memory domain  or non-amnestic MCI (naMCI).

Understanding the distribution of incident MCI by age, sex and other demographic variables is critical to helping us understand the cause of the condition, as well as how to prevent MCI and its progression to full-blown, irreversible dementia, Roberts explained.  This study advances our understanding of MCI and will help clinicians provide even better care for their patients, especially during initial evaluations, Roberts concluded.