Genetics Trends to Watch for When Dementia Runs in the Family
Many people look at their older parents with dementia and wonder if they will suffer the same fate. They also wonder if their children will also end up with the same condition. The truth is that genes do play a role in developing dementia. However, the effects of it vary, so not every family will suffer from dementia in the same way.
More about Genetics and Dementia
The genes everyone inherits are passed down from parents. They are packed into chromosomes and each person has copies of each gene. One of the copies comes from the mother, and the other from the father. These genes are what make people look the way they do, and influence whether people will suffer from certain medical conditions in life.
It’s important to know these genes only influence the risk of developing certain diseases. Environmental and lifestyle factors can also affect the prognosis of medical conditions. Does that mean people with a family history of dementia can prevent it? For some people, yes. For others, no. It all depends on their genes, environment, and lifestyle. It’s so complex that it’s nearly impossible to predict whether someone will suffer from the disease in their lifetime.
Types of Dementia and Genetics
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that many people suffer from, especially if there is a family history of it. It’s known as a familial disease. The three genes that have been identified in Alzheimer’s patients are:
- APOE ε2
- APOE ε3
- APOE ε4
Every person has two of each, but those with APOE ε4 are at the greatest risk for Alzheimer’s. Those with APOE ε3 for both of their genes are at a 60 percent risk. Those with APOE ε2 and APOE ε1 have the least risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Vascular dementia is another type of dementia, but as of now, it is not considered a genetic condition. Researchers continue to look for genes that may be inherited that can identify risk. Dementia with Lewy bodies also isn’t predicted by genetics, but there seems to be some connection since many people who have someone in their family that suffered from it end up with the condition. Fronto-temporal dementia does have a genetic cause with 30 percent of people with it in their family history end up suffering from it as well.
Many people are interested in genetic testing to find out if they are at risk for dementia. It’s not recommended because it can show a false positive, which could lead to undue suffering for people. While the testing can encourage people to lead a different lifestyle and change their environment to help protect themselves from dementia, there’s no other preventative available right now. This can be highly depressing to people, and it may not be worth the strife.
The best thing to do is take care of your health, and continue to keep an eye on dementia research. As researchers continue to study the condition, prevention may come forward that can help many people with a family history of it.