CYPRESS (CBSLA.com) — A Cypress man is fighting his diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, which doctors believe is a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.
Steve Heins didn’t plan to retire in his mid-50s, but he had no choice when he was told he had MCI.
“I was very scared. It was one of those things where it changed my opinion of myself and what I thought of other people with this disease…because now I joined their club. And it wasn’t a club I wanted to join,” he said.
Scientists at UC Irvine’s Mind Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders said after five years, 50 percent of MCI patients are likely to develop a form of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s is the most common.
Heins said he knew something was wrong when he couldn’t remember his co-workers names. He started to call them by their job titles.
However, after his early detection, he went on medication to stabilize his memory loss. He said he frequently exercises and takes art and acting classes.
Doctors said the stigma attached to dementia keeps some patients in the shadows, which has slowed down research for a cause, treatments, and a cure.
“It’s quite important if a person is developing symptoms of memory impairment that’s starting to impact their daily activities, that they notify their doctors,” said Dr. Aimee Pierce from UCI Mind.
World Alzheimer’s Day is Friday. About 250,000 people suffer from the disease in Los Angeles and Orange County.