Diseases that Cause Cognitive Impairment

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

We are all forgetful from time to time, but in some cases, the memory loss is serious and long-lasting. Check out this lesson to find out which diseases cause such cognitive impairment.

Cognitive Impairment

If you have trouble remembering this lesson an hour, day, or week from now, you can always come back to it later and re-read it. Some things in life, however, have no repeats, and what you can't remember now, or learn today, will be forgotten. Trouble remembering things, learning things, understanding meaning or importance, making decisions, or simply concentrating are all different aspects of cognitive impairment. Here, we will dive into some of the various diseases and conditions that can lead to cognitive impairment.

Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, & Stroke

First, let's begin with the most obvious. These are the things that affect the brain directly. They are Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and concussion. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. Dementia is, simply put, the loss of cognitive abilities. No one knows for sure why Alzheimer's disease occurs, but the end result is that, in general, people with Alzheimer's have fewer connections between their brain cells and fewer brain cells compared to healthy people.


The death of nerve cells in the brain, as well as cognitive impairment, is a part of Parkinson's disease. This disease is most famous for causing people great difficulty in movement. People with Parkinson's develop tremors, problems with balance, and difficulty performing simple things, like eating.

Like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, brain damage due to brain cell damage or death can occur during a stroke. A stroke is when an artery supplying the brain with blood is either blocked or breaks open. Both of these problems lead to oxygen deprivation to a part of the brain, and this results in brain cell death. It should be no surprise then that this, in turn, can cause cognitive impairment.

Nutritional & Endocrine Disorders

While Alzheimer's disease and stroke are two obvious causes of cognitive impairment, there are less well-known diseases, conditions, and disorders that can lead to the same problem. Did you get enough thiamine (vitamin B1) today? It can be found in whole grains, fish, and meat. Also, did you eat any fish, eggs, or milk products today to get enough vitamin B12? I hope so, because prolonged deficiencies of these two important nutritional factors can result in poor memory.

Actually, a deficiency in vitamin B12 can also cause fatigue, a symptom of an endocrine disorder called hypothyroidism. This is when your body has too little thyroid hormone. This hormone is like an energy drink for your body, and its lack will obviously cause fatigue. Too much thyroid hormone will cause a condition called hyperthyroidism. Both of these endocrine disorders, or at the very least factors leading to their appearance, might lead to some forms of cognitive impairment.

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