If Someone in my family has had Alzheimer’s, will I have it, too?

If someone in my family has had Alzheimer’s, will I have it, too?

Sharon’s story

middle-aged blond woman wearing glassesI forgot to pay the rent for 2 months and recently lost my glasses. Sometimes, I can’t come up with the right word when talking with others. I could tell my husband was starting to worry, and so was I.

I decided it was time to see my doctor. Some of my relatives have had Alzheimer’s disease. My father started having memory problems when he was in his 60s. I’m in my 60s now.

The doctor asked me about my health and my family’s health history. He said that many things, like depression or a bad reaction to medicine, can cause memory problems. He ordered some tests to help rule out Alzheimer’s disease.

Many people worry about developing Alzheimer’s disease, especially if a family member has had it.

Having a family history of the disease does not mean for sure that you’ll have it, too. But, it may mean you are more likely to develop it.

Late-onset Alzheimer’s

No one can yet predict if you will develop late-onset Alzheimer’s, even if it runs in your family. Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease has been linked to APOE ɛ4. But, having this gene form does not always mean a person will develop the disease.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s

Familial Alzheimer’s disease, or FAD—the most common type of early-onset Alzheimer’s—is inherited. If a parent has a gene for FAD, there is a 50/50 chance that a child will inherit the gene. If the gene is passed down, the child will usually—but not always—have FAD. Doctors and scientists don’t yet know if other types of early-onset Alzheimer’s can be passed down.

Publication Date: August 2016
Page Last Updated: September 27, 2016

From the US department of heath and human services

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