Does Alzheimer’s Have a Genetic Component?

February 4, 2020

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are among the main health concerns that seniors have. Conditions like these can be extremely difficult to manage, whether it’s you or a loved one who develops them. Many people wonder what they can do to prevent Alzheimer’s. The good news is that positive behaviors and lifestyle choices can have an impact on one’s long-term brain health. However, Alzheimer’s disease is complicated and has many potential causes. Researchers do believe that a few genes increase the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s, but that doesn’t mean that the presence of these genetic markers is a sure sign a person will develop the disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is broadly split into two categories: early-onset and late-onset. Early-onset Alzheimer’s occurs in adults under the age of 65 and only accounts for about 10% of cases. Both have a genetic component, with familial early-onset Alzheimer’s being associated with three genes: APP, PSEN1, and PSEN2. If either of a person’s parents has these genes, his or her likelihood of developing early-onset Alzheimer’s disease is 50/50.

Late-onset Alzheimer’s is the most common form of Alzheimer’s. It’s the subject of a great deal of medical research, though much about it remains mysterious. Scientists have discovered one gene to be associated with late-onset Alzheimer’s disease: apolipoprotein E, otherwise known as APOE. Similar to early-onset Alzheimer’s, the presence of a risk gene doesn’t necessarily mean one will develop late-onset Alzheimer’s, but it does increase one’s likelihood. Whether or not you have a risk gene, there are steps you can take to potentially reduce your risk of developing this condition.

Getting regular exercise, exercising your brain, and eating a proper diet may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. A healthy workout regimen is essential, along with eating nutritious meals and avoiding unhealthy foods. Rich, colorful berries, leafy greens, and fatty fish have been shown to promote good brain health. Being aware of the presence of the APOE gene or other genetic disease markers can be helpful in guiding your behavior and planning. Genetic testing companies offer customers the option to test for various genetic disease markers, including APOE. Talk to your doctor about your genetic testing options, and if you find that you have a potentially harmful gene, he or she can help you minimize your chances of developing the relevant condition(s).

Thinking about Alzheimer’s disease can be scary, but we encourage you to take charge of your health through knowledge, action, and education. At Corso Atlanta, we offer many health, wellness, and social programs specifically geared toward seniors. If you’re interested in learning more about assisted living, independent living, memory care, or any of the many programs & activities we offer, please contact Corso Atlanta for more information. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for updates and check back often for new blogs.

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