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Should you be worried about Alzheimer’s in your family?

What does it mean for you if a close relative develops the condition? There are many different factors involved in whether you will get Alzheimer’s or not. These include age, family history and genetics – all are factors we have no control over.

One of the biggest factors that relate to Alzheimer’s disease is a person’s age. As you grow older, you become more at risk of Alzheimer’s. The risk increases in people over the age of 65 and after this age the risk of developing Alzheimer’s doubles approximately every 5 years. Most people who have Alzheimer’s are over this age. The chance of having this illness rises to about 50% by the time the person reaches the age of 85.

Another factor that plays a big role is your family history. It’s more likely that a person will develop Alzheimer’s if a close relative has had the illness. This risk may also increase if multiple family members have the illness.  However, this is not a definite conclusion and other members of the family may never develop this illness.

Genetics can also impact the risk of getting Alzheimer’s.  If you happen to inherit the apolipopetrein E gene (AP0E-e4), it may also increase your chances of getting dementia in later life. However, this does not necessarily mean that you will develop the illness. Carrying this gene just increases your risk of Alzheimer’s and many older people never get Alzheimer’s. About 35% of people with Alzheimer’s don’t carry the gene at all.

The risk factors that are outlined above are something that we can’t change and should be aware of. People over 65 with a family history of the illness who carry the AP0E-e4 gene have an increased risk of Alzheimer’s – but it is not definitive.

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Posted 30th January 2018

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