ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE: WHAT IS YOUR RISK OF GETTING IT?

Finding a genetic marker for Alzheimer’s disease brings us a step closer to developing a test to tell what a person’s chances are of getting this terrible disease. However, because scientists are just beginning to unravel the genetic determinants of the illness, this test may be years away. Statistics must suffice to answer that anxious question, ”How likely am I to get Alzheimer’s disease?”
If you have a strong family history – if several close family members developed the disease unusually early, before sixty or so – you do run a real risk. Otherwise the statistics are very comforting. Your chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease (or any other form of dementia) is small, at least until advanced old age. Alzheimer’s disease (and other old-age dementias) is illness of very late life – extremely rare before age sixty, uncommon but rising gradually in prevalence over the next two decades. Real vulnerability begins in the mid-eighties, when a significant minority of people does have serious memory problems. However, even among people hardy enough in body to live to one hundred, many survive sound in mind.
Interpret these statistics cautiously; the proportion of people with memory problems at each age varies greatly depending on the study we pick. The reason is not necessarily that older people in Japan are less (or more) prone to senility than residents of New York State but that the criteria for judging problems differ from survey to survey. And even some people diagnosed as having severe memory problems do not have dementia. They may have a treatable condition or even no intellectual deficit at all.
*124/159/5*
GENERAL HEALTH
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Posted on Tuesday, June 1st, 2010 at 11:46 am and is filed under General health. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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