Alzheimers genetic testing

What is Alzheimer's

Scientists have identified factors that increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. The most important risk factors—age, family history and heredity—can't be changed, but emerging evidence suggests there may be other factors we can influence.

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Age

The greatest known risk factor for Alzheimer’s is advancing age. For example, while one of nine people age 65 or older has Alzheimer's, nearly one of three people age 85 or older has the disease. One of the greatest mysteries of Alzheimer's disease is why risk rises so dramatically as we grow older.

Learn more: 10 Signs of Alzheimer's, Steps to Diagnosis and Visiting Your Doctor.


Family history

Another strong risk factor is family history. Those who have a parent, brother, sister or child with Alzheimer’s are more likely to develop the disease. The risk increases if more than one family member has the illness. When diseases tend to run in families, either heredity (genetics) or environmental factors, or both, may play a role.

Aluminum not a cause

During the 1960s and 1970s, aluminum emerged as a possible suspect in causing Alzheimer’s disease. This suspicion led to concerns about everyday exposure to aluminum through sources such as cooking pots, foil, beverage cans, antacids and antiperspirants. Since then, studies have failed to confirm any role for aluminum in causing Alzheimer’s. Almost all scientists today focus on other areas of research, and few experts believe that everyday sources of aluminum pose any threat.

Genetics (heredity)

Scientists know genes are involved in Alzheimer’s. There are two types of genes that can play a role in affecting whether a person develops a disease—risk genes and deterministic genes. Alzheimer's genes have been found in both categories.

Genetic testing

Genetic tests are available for both APOE-e4 and the rare genes that directly cause Alzheimer’s. However, health professionals do not currently recommend routine genetic testing for Alzheimer’s disease. Testing for APOE-e4 is sometimes included as a part of research studies.

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