Many people tend to be extremely worried about getting Alzheimer’s disease, especially if they have parents, siblings, aunts, or uncles that have had the disease. (3) The first question that usually comes to such people’s minds is, “Is Alzheimer’s hereditary?”
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Is Alzheimer’s hereditary?
People tend to wonder that just because their parents or other family members had the disease, would they also be afflicted with the same illness later on in their lives. (6) The reason why people want to ask such questions is because they want to know if they are at a higher risk of getting the disease and if so, are there any steps or measures that they can take to reduce their risks.
The thing to note is that scientists are still not clear about the answer to these questions. In this regard, it would be important to consider what the researchers have been able to find out so far in trying to answer the question:
Scientists have been able to determine that genes do play a role in the development of the Alzheimer’s disease. (5) However, the thing to note is that in most of the cases, if a family member such as a parent, grandparent, sibling, uncle, or aunt, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it does not necessarily mean that you are also going to get the illness. In this regard, the answer to the question, “Is Alzheimer’s hereditary?” would be, “Not always.” This is because even though very close relatives might have Alzheimer’s, it does not mean that you are going to have it as well.
Even though Alzheimer’s might not be hereditary per se, it has to be noted that scientists have been able to identify several genes that tend to contribute in increasing the risk of the people developing the illness. (1) For instance, it has been found that the gene called Apo lipoprotein E-e4, or APOE-e4, has been found amongst twenty to twenty-five percent of the Alzheimer’s cases. (4) This is why it has been noted that if a person inherits this gene from either one or both of his or her parents, that person is likely to have more chances of developing Alzheimer’s. Even though these genes can be detected using special kinds of blood tests, doctors are still unable to predict whether the occurrence and presence of these genes are going to cause the carrier to be affected with Alzheimer’s disease or not.
Some genes tend to make it a certainty that the carrier would have Alzheimer’s disease. Such genes are called deterministic genes and they are frequently responsible for the early-onset cases of the illness. (2) However, even though this is the case, such deterministic genes are extremely rare. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, only about 5% of Alzheimer’s cases are caused because of such deterministic genes. These genes can also be recognized if proper blood tests are performed on the person.
If you have ever asked yourself the question, “Is Alzheimer’s hereditary?” then one of the things that you should consider is finding out if any member from your immediate family has had or currently has the disease. If many people in the immediate family have been afflicted with the illness, it is much more likely that you would have the disease as well. However, the chances are not very high; just because some close family members have the illness, it does not necessarily mean that you are also going to be affected by it. (5) Some genetic factors have been identified, yet it has been noted that the disease also has environmental factors and causes that contribute to it.
Aside from having family history of Alzheimer’s it has to be noted that there might be more genetic aspects of the illness that contribute to its prevalence, especially with regards to cases that develop after the person turns 60 years old. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) has depicted the main causes of Alzheimer’s include a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. (2) This is why it is not easy to answer the question, “Is Alzheimer’s hereditary?” with simple answers. The answer is quite complex, as there are many different causes and many different factors that contribute to the affliction.
Recommendations to Minimize Risk
One of the biggest factors that contribute to Alzheimer’s disease is age, which is something that no one can control and the risk of getting Alzheimer’s increases as one gets older. (8) However, several risk factors can be controlled to ensure that the person does not develop the illness.
One of the ways in which people can protect from getting Alzheimer’s disease is by taking care of the heart. Research has shown that the risk of Alzheimer’s disease increases if a person has medical conditions that affect the heart. For example, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes all tend to increase the risks of Alzheimer’s. This is why controlling these diseases means reducing risk of getting Alzheimer’s.
Research has also shown that head trauma and injury increases the risks of the person getting Alzheimer’s in the future. For example, boxers, who repeatedly get hit in the head, have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. It is, therefore, important to avoid head injuries and traumas to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
It has also been noted that continuously working the mind is a good way to reduce the risks of Alzheimer’s. This can include people indulging in exercises for the mind, such as solving puzzles, doing mathematical problems, crosswords, etc.
It is also important for people to have a healthy lifestyle, such as exercising regularly and having a good, healthy diet free from preservatives and other toxic substances. People should also avoid excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco use. (7)
One of the things to note is that early detection of Alzheimer’s is very important. The earlier one is able to get diagnosed, the more treatment options would be available to the patients.