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Is Alzheimer's Passed on Genetically From One Generation to the Next?

is alzheimers passed on genetically
Source: PEXELS

Jun. 18 2024, Published 3:00 a.m. ET

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Alzheimer's is one of the most rampant maladies in America. Fresh research reveals that one in ten gents and one in five ladies are battling it. As things stand, nearly seven million souls in the U.S. are tangled up with Alzheimer's, and those figures are primed to balloon, with forecasts showing it could swell to over thirteen million in the next three decades. That's why, now more than ever, it's crucial to get a firm grip on what Alzheimer's disease is and how it sneaks and weaves its way through our lives.

The Alzheimer's Association dubs the disease as "a type of dementia that messes with memory, thinking, and behavior. Symptoms eventually get gnarly enough to disrupt daily tasks." Folks with Alzheimer's fall into two camps: early-onset crowd and late-onset.

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Early-Onset vs. Late-Onset

Anyone who starts showing signs of Alzheimer's before hitting sixty is tagged as part of the early-onset crowd. This rare breed makes up less than 1% of the seven million people currently grappling with the disease. On the flip side, the vast majority belong to the late-onset gang, with symptoms typically popping up after age 65.

The most familiar symptoms tied to Alzheimer's revolve around memory lapses, mood swings, planning struggles, and general muddle-headedness. Given that nearly all these primary symptoms mess with the brain and its chemistry, it's only natural to wonder if Alzheimer's can be passed down the family tree.

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Is Alzheimer's a hereditary hand-me-down, genetically passed from one generation to the next? In short, genetics play a hefty role in the likelihood of getting the disease. The ε4 variant in the APOE gene is a genetic quirk identified as a signpost for late-onset Alzheimer's vulnerability, often handed down through the family lineage.

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The Pros of Exploring Your Genetic History

It's vital to grasp that this isn't a simple black-and-white matter with neat 'yes or no' answers. Sure, this particular genetic twist often waves a red flag for vulnerability, but it’s far from a one-size-fits-all situation. Not everyone with Alzheimer's has this genetic quirk, and not everyone sporting this genetic mutation ends up with Alzheimer's. Other factors, such as the healthiness of your diet or the frequency with which you exercise, have also been shown to drastically impact your likelihood of contracting the disease, whether it was passed onto you genetically or not.

In this way, genetic testing for Alzheimer's can be an exceedingly helpful tool. While it's not the ultimate fix or a definitive answer, it works as a stellar early warning and can be key in preparing for future scenarios. Alzheimer's tends to run in families, so knowing your clan's medical history and genealogy is absolutely crucial.

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