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Can I Inherit Alzheimer's Disease?
Posted on January 7, 2009


Illness in life is a product of genes and environment. As a result, all illnesses are, to some extent or another, inherited. With Alzheimer's disease, some cases are strongly genetically inherited, while others are not. About a third of people with Alzheimer's disease have a close relative (parent, brother or sister) who has, or has had, dementia. The other two thirds of people with Alzheimer's disease probably do not have any family history. In these cases, the disease is known as 'sporadic'.

Alzheimer's disease occurs relatively frequently in the elderly, regardless of a family history. When a person does not have a first degree relative (parent, brother or sister) with a history of Alzheimer's disease, the risk of getting Alzheimer's disease is related to the person's current age; for example, a one in 100 chance between 60 and 64 years, a one in 20 between 70 and 74 years and a more than one in 5 chance after age 80 years.

Family history is only one risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. In most cases of Alzheimer's disease, no risk factors can be identified. You are not necessarily at increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease if:

you only had a grandparent who had Alzheimer's disease;

your parent got Alzheimer's disease over the age of 65; or

your parent had the onset of Alzheimer's disease before the age of 65, and you are now several years older than that.

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