Genetics and Family History in Alzheimer's Disease
Most people who develop
Alzheimer's disease do not have a history of the
disease in their families. But a family history of Alzheimer's disease
(one or more members of a family have had the disease) does increase other
family members' risk of developing Alzheimer's.
Some people who have the gene for apolipoprotein E-4 (ApoE-4) may be
more likely to develop the disease, but the presence of this gene does not
predict with certainty whether a person will have Alzheimer's disease. Many
people who have the ApoE-4 gene do not get Alzheimer's disease, and many people
who do not have the gene still develop the disease.
Every time NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens steps onto the football field, his mind turns to the woman he credits with getting him there: his grandmother. She took him in when he was a young boy and raised him. What breaks his heart is that she will never know how far he's come.
Alice Black was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease 14 years ago, during Owens' first NFL season. Now, she no longer knows her grandson. "The disease has robbed her of her memories," says Owens, who plays for the Cincinnati...
In some families with a history of Alzheimer's disease (less than 5%
of cases), the disease has been linked to defects in specific genes. There is a
50% risk that these genes will be passed on. A person who inherits the genetic
defect will almost always develop Alzheimer's disease. This rare form of the
disease is called autosomal dominant Alzheimer's. Because it tends to develop
earlier in life than is typical, often by age 50, it is also referred to as
early-onset Alzheimer's disease.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Peter J. Whitehouse, MD - Neurology
November 9, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
November 09, 2010
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