When a parent or grandparent is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s normal for us to wonder if this is a hereditary disease. Many of us have Alzheimer’s in our family backgrounds and are concerned for our own future health. Early onset and age-related Alzheimer’s can have something to do with genetics but at this point nothing has been proven. Genetics is only one factor and many other factors come into play along with it.
Should you be tested for Alzheimer’s?
Not everyone with the Alzheimer’s gene will end up with the disease yet it can still show up as a diagnosis. Most professionals advise against testing for this very reason. It can be misleading and you will spend years worrying about developing the disease. Testing is also expensive. Having the gene may signify a risk but it is not a firm diagnosis. Alzheimer’s is more likely to be caused by a combination of inherited genes along with environmental and lifestyle factors.
Could my race make me more likely to develop Alzheimer’s?
Race may actually play a larger part in developing Alzheimer’s than heredity does. It has been found that older seniors of Latin or African-American descent are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than other races. At this time, no reason for this has been found but it could be due to the higher rates of vascular disease in these groups.
Even if your race or genetics shows that you are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than others, remember that Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are very common. There are some risks you can control such as your lifestyle and environment. Eat well, stay fit and reduce your exposure to chemicals. Quit smoking and manage other health problems you may have such as diabetes and heart disease. Take control of the factors in your life that you are in charge of and quit worrying about genetics. To read more about Alzheimer’s disease and heredity, click here.