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Genetic Predisposition Testing for Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that causes deterioration of cognitive functioning, such as thinking and memory skills, to an extent that it interferes in a person’s ability to function in every day life. Alzheimer’s disease appears most commonly in people over 60 years of age. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia found in old age.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease

Memory loss- Repeating things, often forgetting conversations or appointments, routinely misplacing things, eventually forgetting the names of family members and everyday objects.

  • Problems with abstract thinking- People with Alzheimer\’s may have trouble recognising and dealing with numbers.
  • Difficulty finding the right word- It may be a challenge for those with Alzheimer\’s to find the right words to express thoughts or even follow conversations. Eventually, reading and writing also are affected.
  • Disorientation- People with Alzheimer\’s disease often lose their sense of time and dates, and may find themselves lost in familiar surroundings.
  • Loss of judgment- Solving everyday problems, such as knowing what to do if food in the oven is burning, becomes increasingly difficult, eventually impossible. Alzheimer\’s is characterized by greater difficulty in doing things that require planning, decision making and judgment.
  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks- Once-routine tasks that require sequential steps, such as cooking, become a struggle as the disease progresses. Eventually, people with advanced Alzheimer\’s may forget how to do even the most basic things.
  • Changes in Personality

Causes of Alzheimer’s disease

The exact cause of Alzheimer disease is unknown, however scientists believe that it is triggered as a result of a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors. Two types of brain cell (neuron) damage are thought to be the primary underlying cause of Alzheimer’s disease, damage by plaques and damage by tangles. Plaques build up between nerve cells. They contain deposits of a protein fragment called beta-amyloid. Tangles are twisted fibers of another protein called tau. People develop some plaques and tangles as they age, those with Alzheimer’s tend to develop far more. The plaques and tangles tend to form in a predictable pattern, beginning in areas important in learning and memory and then spreading to other regions. Most experts believe they somehow block communication among nerve cells and disrupt activities that cells need to survive.

The risk of developing Alzheimer’s increases with age, and a family history of Alzheimer’s disease will increase your risk of developing this condition. Although the genetic mechanisms of Alzheimer\’s among families remain largely unexplained, researchers have identified several genetic mutations that greatly increase risk in some families.