Are You at Risk for Alzheimer’s if Your Mother or Father Had It?

January 22, 2016 | By Lorenzo Mejia

Having a close relative diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can be alarming. There are currently no cures and the number of diagnoses is increasing every year. The next scariest question is will I get Alzheimer’s and am I doomed?  Dr. Gad Marshall at Harvard Medical School says it is not necessarily true. Although a family history adds to overall risk, age still is the higher risk factor. Family history does mean your risk is higher, but it is not that much higher.

 

Having a family member diagnosed with Alzheimer’s increases your risk by 30%.This is a relative risk meaning a 30% hike in your existing risk. If you are over age 65, you have a 2% increase in risk per year, but a 98% risk of not getting it. With a family history, your risk increases to 2.6% a year. Age is the biggest factor in being diagnosed, much more than family history. Once you are in your 70’s the chance increases to 5% which is more than twice that of people in their 60’s. It is 6.5% risk if you have a family history and that is only slightly higher.

 

The second question most asked is should you be tested for the Alzheimer’s gene? Most genetic counselors will not recommend this because even if you have the gene, it doesn’t mean you will get Alzheimer’s. It will only tell you if you are at a greater or lower risk. The biggest factor is being prepared by planning for the future, taking care of your physical health and looking at long term care options or insurance.

 

 

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