Alzheimer's in distant relatives also indicates their own risk of developing the disease

Alzheimer's in distant relatives also indicates their own risk of developing the disease

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Increased risk of Alzheimer's from distant relatives?

Many people who have lost a parent to dementia are terrified that they may have inherited the condition. A study now suggests that less closely related people with Alzheimer's are a strong warning sign of their own increased risk of Alzheimer's.

The University of Utah scientists found in their current investigation that second and third-order family members diagnosed with Alzheimer's could indicate an increased risk of developing the disease. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Neurology".

Increased risk of Alzheimer's among relatives?

Alzheimer's disease in the family indicates an increased risk of the disease in other family members. For example, if two grandparents had Alzheimer's, the grandchildren's Alzheimer's risk increased by 25 percent. If two cousins ​​are ill, the risk of one person increases by 17 percent.

Data from more than 270,000 subjects were analyzed

The data from more than 270,000 people was evaluated for the study. More than half of people with Alzheimer's disease carry a specific gene that triples the risk of Alzheimer's and other genes that are inherited in the family that also lead to the disease. However, it is not inevitable that the disorder will occur, as sufferers can reduce their risk through lifestyle changes such as losing weight and lowering high blood pressure.

Family history is an important indicator of Alzheimer's risk

Family history is an important indicator of Alzheimer's risk, but most research focuses on dementia in closely related family members. Therefore, the current study examined a larger family picture, according to the scientists. The study found that a broader view of family history can help better predict Alzheimer's risk. The results of the investigation could potentially lead to better diagnoses and help patients and their families make better health-related decisions.

How does Alzheimer's affect the risk in the family?

It is well known that Alzheimer's in a parent or sibling can increase the risk of Alzheimer's. The risk of developing Alzheimer's can double if three or more second-degree relatives had the disease. The risk of Alzheimer's also increases by 43 percent if three third-degree relatives suffer from the disease. The study found that if one parent or sibling has Alzheimer's and a second-degree relative has the disease, this increases the risk of Alzheimer's by 21 times.

Lifestyle changes can lower Alzheimer's risk

However, the study's authors explicitly emphasize that lifestyle changes can reduce people's risk of Alzheimer's by about a third. People with relatives with Alzheimer's do not automatically have to develop a form of dementia. The risk of Alzheimer's is complex and there are many factors. A healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer's even for people with a high family history. (as)

Author and source information

Video: Are Infections Causing Alzheimers Disease? Robert Moir. TEDxCambridgeSalon (May 2022).