Professor Brenda Whitley
15 April 2015
The Hereditary Role of Alzheimer’s Occurrence in Families Alzheimer’s is a disease affecting many people around the world, it has been a marvel to certain researchers due to the fact that there is currently no cure. I have studied and researched this disease and many studies that have been compiled with it. The scary reality of many families that have cared for a parent or family member with the disease is the chance they might one day end up with the same disease. My goal is to prove that there is genetic or hereditary factor leading to the occurrence of Alzheimer’s among families. First importance is the understanding of what Alzheimer’s is and does to your body. As stated by the National Institute on aging Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease. It is characterized by the development of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, the loss of connections among brain cells, inflammation, and eventually the death of these brain cells or severe shrinkage. These changes lead to many profound symptoms. One of the earliest symptoms usually being trouble remembering newly learned information, due to the changes of the part of the brain that affects learning. The progression time and severity of certain symptoms vary among patients, however the truth still that there is no cure. The progression is marked with disorientation, mood and behavioral changes, worsening confusion of events and time, and unsupported suspicions of close friends or family. One must understand that these are all justified by the changes and shrinkage of the patient’s brain, they literally do not have the brain capacity to help these symptoms. This often makes the disease challenging for not only the patient but the family members led to care and cope with the disease. Often these symptoms worsen to difficulty speaking, swallowing, and walking (Alzheimer’s Association). Over the years researchers have been able to identify certain risk factors. Surprisingly, the Alzheimer’s Association list three main risk factors, age, family history, and genetics. They state the greatest risk factor as being increasing age; where after age 65 the risk for Alzheimer’s doubles every five years and after 85 reaches nearly 50 percent. The Alzheimer’s Association also states,
“Another Alzheimer's risk factor is family history. Research has shown that those who have a parent, brother, sister or child with Alzheimer's are more likely to develop the disease. The risk increases if more than one family member has the illness. When diseases tend to run in families, either heredity (genetics) or environmental factors or both may play a role.”
When it comes to genetics role in diseases, some are caused by a genetic mutation in one or more genes. When a genetic mutation that causes a certain disease is inherited from a parent, the person will most likely get the disease. The National Association of aging groups a few of these diseases such as: sickle cell, cystic fibrosis, and also includes familial Alzheimer’s disease. Which can be gathered that certain types of early onset Alzheimer’s are directly caused from inheritance of a genetic mutation. In other diseases a genetic variant may occur causing a change in a gene that can in rare cases cause a disease directly, but most variants act to increase or decrease a person's risk of developing a disease. When a genetic variant increases disease risk but does not directly cause a disease, it is called a genetic risk factor (Association of Aging). On the subject of Alzheimer’s risk factors, genetics are separated into two different categories of genes that influence disease, the risk genes and deterministic genes. Researchers have identified Alzheimer’s genes in both categories (Alzheimer’s Association).
Risk genes also known as genetic risk factors are identified to increase the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s, although do not guarantee that