Is Alzheimer's Hereditary?
With Alzheimer’s being the sixth most common cause of death in the US, many are concerned about the causes behind the condition. Commonly, people assume they will get the condition because they have a relative or genetic connection to someone who has the cognitive decline condition. But can Alzheimer’s really be inherited?
Overall, it is accepted that whilst having a history of Alzheimer’s in your pedigree increases your risk of Alzheimer’s, this is a small increase. When looking at the role of genetics in causing Alzheimer’s, it is important to differentiate between Risk genes and Deterministic genes.
Risk genes refers to the genes you can inherit from your parents that increase your risk of Alzheimer’s, but do not guarantee you will get the condition. The most common risk gene identified by scientists is APOE-e4. Everyone inherits some APOE gene from their parents; it can be APOE-e4, APOE-e3, or APOE-e2. It should be noted that whilst APOE-e4 increases your risk of Alzheimer’s, it does not mean you will definitely have the condition.
Deterministic genes, as the name would suggest, determine if you have a certain condition. Therefore, inheriting a deterministic gene for Alzheimer’s means you will definitely have the condition. When your genes cause Alzheimer’s, it is often referred to as familial Alzheimer’s, however, this is exceptionally rare. In fact, deterministic genes only account for 1% of Alzheimer’s cases.
Other factors also play a crucial role in your risk of Alzheimer’s. For one, gender is known to increase your risk of the condition since women are much more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than men. Factors like age, heart health, and past trauma also impact your risk of Alzheimer’s, making it vital to look after your brain health throughout your life.
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