Home > Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia & Brain Health > Alzheimer’s Disease Is It Hereditary?

Alzheimer’s Disease Is It Hereditary?

There are approximately 5.3 million people living with Alzheimer’s in the United States. Imagine the children and grandchildren of those sufferers who face the terrifying possibility of inheriting a predisposition to the disease. Now that there are tests in the works for early detection of brain injury due to Alzheimer’s, as well as other biological markers of the disease, the question becomes: Would you want to know? Many individuals with a family history of Alzheimer’s said they would definitely want to know if their brains already have signs of the disease. Greg Kalkwarf, whose grandfather died of complications from Alzheimer’s and his mother, 65, now has it, said, “Wouldn’t you want to know that, if you do only have X number of years left, that, shoot, maybe I should not go to that luncheon and instead go spend time with my family?”

At the 2010 Alzheimer’s Association Conference, experts suggested that using biomarkers of the disease, such as plaques and specific proteins in the brain may help in early diagnoses of the disease. The biomarkers can be discovered through MRI scans, PET imaging and testing of cerebrospinal fluid. Memory or other cognitive tests are also indicators of risk for potential development of the disease. Drugs currently being used for treating people in the late stages of the disease do not cure or slow the progression of the disease. Although there are no proven treatments for preventing or curing Alzheimer’s, scientists believe that identifying the early signs of the disease through research will help them develop methods for addressing the early stages. Planning, medical and social intervention can help ease the burden on both patients and family members. Exercise, good nutrition and stimulating activities are important.

Although you cannot change your inherited genes, ethnicity, gender, or age, you can address certain risk factors. Scientists believe that certain conditions and behaviors are more likely to put you at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease:
Smoking after age 65 increases your chances of developing Alzheimer’s by 79%.
Obesity in midlife makes you 3 ½ times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
Diabetes makes you twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
Genetics account for only 25% of Alzheimer’s cases.
Chronic stress may quadruple your risk.
Hypertension , high cholesterol, heart disease, poor quality or insufficient sleep, sedentary lifestyle, liver and kidney disease, alcohol and drug use and head injury are also risk factors.

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About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

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