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Is Alzheimer’s Hereditary?

If you are a caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, it has probably caused you to worry that you might develop the disease. You know firsthand how debilitating Alzheimer’s can be. While the research is still unclear, there is evidence to indicate that people who have an immediate family member (parent or sibling) with Alzheimer’s may be at greater risk.

The Genetic Risks for Alzheimer’s Disease

If you have a first-degree relative who has Alzheimer’s disease, it can increase your risk of developing it. Some experts believe that increased risk can be as high as 30%. One important thing to note is that the older your relatives were at the time of diagnosis, the less likely you are to develop it. A study published in Neurology found that adults who have two parents living with Alzheimer’s are at higher risk than those with just one parent affected. What studies aren’t clear on is whether that increase in risk is due to shared lifestyle and environmental factors or because of hereditary ones.

One thing that is clear is that age is the biggest risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease. The risk of being diagnosed with the disease doubles every five years after age 65.

Alzheimer’s Risk Factors You Can Control

The Alzheimer’s Association has a Prevention and Risk Center full of resources you might find helpful. Topics range from the roles diet and exercise play in prevention to how important social connections are in holding off Alzheimer’s disease.

Other largely preventable factors that increase the odds of your developing the disease include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes

The National Institute on Aging also has a comprehensive resource center that includes information on everything from genetic mutations and Alzheimer’s disease to genetic testing. You can download this free Alzheimer’s Prevention Guide to help you learn more about controlling your risk.

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