Alzheimer Disease

What causes the disorder?

Genetics:

Early-onset forms of this disease are rare. It occurs in people in the ages usually between the age 30 - 60. This form of Alzheimer's is familial Alzheimer's disease, caused by changes in one of three known genes inherited from a parent. Most people that have Alzheimer's have late-onset, which usually develops after the age of 60. Studies have shown that this is linked to the APOE gene.

Environmental/ lifestyle:

Alzheimer's has been associated with having a stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

What gene or chromosome is affected by this disorder?

Alzheimer's is caused by several single gene mutations on chromosomes 21, 14 and 1. These mutations cause abnormal proteins to be formed in the brain.

Are there prenatal tests for this disorder?

There are some things that you can do to see if your children will get Alzheimer's Disease. Doctors can study the families history. Also, during pregnancy they can use amniocentesis. Amniocentesis can detect an increased risk for a mutation for the PSEN1 mutation. This test is unlikely to be used unless a family member has been diagnosed. Also, the presence of the mutation does not mean that an individual will develop the disease.

What are some of the symptoms?

1. Memory loss

2. Challenges in planning or solving problems

3. Difficulty finishing tasks that are familiar

4. Confusion in what time it is or where you are

5. Trouble understanding images

6. Problems with speaking or writing

7. Misplacing things

8. Decreased or poor judgment

9. Withdrawal from social events

10. Mood swings and changes in personality

What population is affected?

About 1:20 people over 65 suffers from Alzheimer's

Studies have shown that more women are affected

Can anyone be a candidate for the disorder?

Yes, any one can develop Alzheimer's.

How is it inherited?

Early forms of Alzheimer's is inherited by an autosomal dominant pattern. The inheritance of late forms of Alzheimer's is still uncertain.

What kind of medical assistance will the affected child need?

This disease does not affect children.

Will further assistance be needed, as the child grows older?

Children are not affected by this disease.

What is the long-term outlook for the child?

Not applicable.

Are there any treatments or cures?

Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease. Also, there are no treatments that can halt the progression. If you are diagnosed early with the disease, you can manage it. A health care provider may also prescribe medication to help manage other symptoms of the disease.

Could this disorder have been prevented?

There is no sure way to prevent the disease, but there are ways to help possibly prevent or delay the symptoms. To help prevent the disease, people should exercise regularly, have a healthy diet, mental stimulation, good sleep, control stress, and have a active social life.

Can this individual have children in the future?

Yes, individuals can still have children if they have Alzheimer's.

Will those children be affected?

Early-onset Alzheimer's does run in some peoples families. The individuals will usually get the disease well before 65. However, this particular case is less then 5% of the diagnoses. Late-onset Alzheimer's is much more common. If you have a family member over 65 with Alzheimer's there is a very small chance that you will get it to.

What is the current status of research on this disorder?

Right now treatments can only temporarily improve the symptoms of this disease. Alzheimer's disease causes inflammation in the brain cells. Researchers are now studying ways to help with this. Future drugs will help to completely stop or reduce cell damage. At the time the are several drugs that are promising and being tested. A recent study called the MIND diet suggests that people can lower the risk for Alzheimer's by as much as 53%. The diet consists of eating vegetables, berries, whole grains, and nuts.

Is there a cure/new treatment coming soon?

Right now there is no cure for this disease, but there are drugs being tested that can possibly help to stop and reduce the cause of the disease.