Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that can negatively alter a person’s brain, memory and behavior. This disease worsens over time, and there is no known cure. If one of your parents has the disease you have a 50% higher risk of getting Alzheimer’s, and if both parents have it the risk is even higher. Every person, especially as we age, has spells where we forget, and this is perfectly normal. You should become concerned if you or someone you know has consistent negative changes in behavior or memory, and at this point you should consult with a doctor. There are genetic tests that can be done if a person suspects that they are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, or at a higher risk for the disease.
Genetic Testing for Alzheimer’s Disease
Genetic testing for early stages of Alzheimer’s is done by a geneticist examiner. They test and examine a person’s DNA to determine if it contains genetic alterations that could show if a person is susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease, certain characteristics or family history. The genetic tests can alert a doctor if it shows a person is at risk for developing Alzheimer’s. A positive result will show that there is genetic alterations present in a person’s DNA. Genetic testing can be done for both Familial Alzheimer’s, which accounts for less than 5% of cases, and Autosomal Dominant Alzheimer’s disease. So far there has been only one identifiable risk gene for Alzheimer’s, it is known as APOE-e4.
Who Should Have Genetic Testing for Alzheimer’s Disease?
A person who has a family history of Alzheimer’s disease, or is showing early symptoms should talk to a physician about having genetic testing for Alzheimer’s disease. A person should also keep-in-mind that these genetic test aren’t 100%. A positive result does not guarantee you will get Alzheimer’s, but means that you are susceptible to the disease. Also, a negative result doesn’t guarantee a person won’t get Alzheimer’s disease. Doctors don’t recommend general genetic testing for Alzheimer’s disease.
Genetic Counseling and Mental Heath
Often it is recommended that a person will need genetic counseling for mental health issues that may arise. This counseling can help a person deal with the psychological impact if they receive a positive test. Based on a person’s individual case, the counselor will work with you to determine the next course of action if the test results are positive. There are those who want the genetic test for Alzheimer’s to help them to mentally prepare for the future, and take care of personal responsibilities should they get Alzheimer’s. However, many don’t want to know or aren’t prepared for the mental impact on knowing this diagnosis, because this is a disease with no known cure and many uncertainties.
For more information on genetic testing for Alzheimer’s and its impact on mental heath go to: www.alz.org, www.havard.edu, www.mayoclinic.com, www.healthtree.com, or www.medinik.com.