Is Alzheimer’s Genetic?
There are two types of Alzheimer’s disease: early-onset and late-onset. Researchers believe there is a genetic component to both
The first type, early-onset Alzheimer’s, isn’t very common. It occurs in adults under the age of 65. Only 10% of all Alzheimer’s cases are early-onset. The genes that account for this type of Alzheimer’s disease are less than 1% of all cases, but for early diagnosis, they are present in 70% of cases.
If either of your parents has these genes, your odds of developing early-onset Alzheimer’s is about fifty-fifty.
Late-onset Alzheimer’s has some mystery about it. A variety of factors contribute to it. Lifestyle, environment, and genetics are thought to play a role. A hereditary link to Alzheimer’s has been detected in connection with a risk gene. However, some people who have these genes never develop the disease.
In short, yes, there are genetic links to Alzheimer’s disease. Keeping an eye on the signs and symptoms can help.
Many people wonder if Alzheimer’s disease runs in their family. Is it in your genes? This question isn’t easy to answer. Researchers have identified several genetic variants that are associated with Alzheimer’s and may increase or decrease a person’s risk of developing the disease. What does that mean? Let’s first learn about the role of genes.
What are Genes?
Human cells contain the instructions needed for a cell to do its job. These instructions are made up of DNA, which is packed tightly into structures called chromosomes. Each chromosome has thousands of segments called genes.
Genes are passed down from a person’s biological parents. They carry information that defines traits such as eye color and height. Genes also play a role in keeping the body’s cells healthy.
Variations in genes — even small changes to a gene — can affect the likelihood of a person developing a disease such as Alzheimer’s.
Do Genes Cause Diseases?
Permanent changes in one or more specific genes are called genetic variants. Some of these variants are quite common in the human population. While most genetic variants don’t cause diseases, some do. In some cases, a person inherits a genetic variant that will almost certainly lead to that individual developing a disease. Sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, and some cases of early-onset Alzheimer’s are examples of inherited genetic disorders. However, other variants may simply increase, or even decrease, a person’s risk of developing that disease. Identifying genetic variants and their effects can help researchers uncover the most effective ways to treat or prevent diseases in an individual.
Additionally, factors such as exercise, diet, chemicals, or smoking can have positive or negative effects by changing the way certain genes work.
Precision medicine will enable researchers and doctors to predict more accurately which treatment and prevention strategies will work in particular groups of people.
Genes and Alzheimer’s Disease
In most cases, Alzheimer’s does not have a single genetic cause. Instead, it can be influenced by multiple genes in combination with lifestyle and environmental factors. Consequently, a person may carry more than one gene or group of genes that can either increase or reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Importantly, people who develop Alzheimer’s do not always have a history of the disease in their families. Still, those who have a parent or sibling diagnosed with the disease have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s than those without that association.
A child whose biological parent carries a genetic variant for one of these three genes has a 50/50 chance of inheriting that altered version of the gene. If the variant is inherited, the child has a very strong probability of developing Alzheimer’s before age 65 and sometimes much earlier. When someone develops Alzheimer’s before age 65, it’s known as Early-onset Alzheimer’s or sometimes Younger-onset Alzheimer’s.
We are here to help, too. If you or a loved one is dealing with Alzheimer’s or dementia, our team can help you with finding local resources and our Memory Care community at The Village at Sugar Land can help you wherever you are in your journey.
Contact us at 281-729-8800 or email [email protected]