As if one parent suffering from Alzheimer’s is not bad enough, when this disease strikes both parents, it could affect the children too. Latest research shows that children whose parents (both the father and mother) have Alzheimer’s disease are more at risk of developing this disease.
Scientists, after conducting tests on hundreds of families where both parents have Alzheimer’s disease, have come to the conclusion that having both the parents with Alzheimer’s places their offspring at a much higher risk of developing this degenerative disease.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a form of dementia usually affecting the elderly. It is a form of fatal and progressive brain disease. Alzheimer’s destroys our brain cells and causes problems with memory, behavior and thinking. It gets severe enough to affect daily activities and social life, and gets worse with time. Currently, it is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States and about 5 million Americans are said to be affected, according to statistics.
Just as our body changes with age, so does our brain. We usually slow down and notice slow thinking and problems remembering certain things, however; major memory loss, utter confusion and other major thinking changes are definitely not a part of aging. If this happens, it could mean that the brain cells are not functioning properly. The human brain has cell networks doing special jobs, some think, some learn, others remember and so on. Keeping these cell networks running perfectly requires large amounts of oxygen, fuel and coordination. In Alzheimer’s, some cells stop functioning properly.
If you look at your body as a factory, you would understand that any breakdown in one area causes problems in all other areas. It starts with improper functioning and eventually leads to death of the cells.
Research provides some vital statistics. While the percentage of people with no hereditary factor, at risk for developing Alzheimer’s is at around 6-13%, the risk in people whose both parents are affected by the disease, is around 22.6%. In such people, the age of developing this dreaded disease is lowered to 57, which makes it all the more worse. Earlier studies suggested that age is the most important factor in a majority of Alzheimer’s cases.
Researchers at the University of Washington claim that a strong genetic component which is called ApoE, may be responsible for the hereditary transfer of this brain disorder. ApoE is a gene that creates a substance in our body to help carry cholesterol in the blood and this gene seems to be influencing the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Even today, with all the advancement in science, scientists are not really sure how or why this happens. For now, there is no cure for all those people with Alzheimer’s worldwide, who gradually lose memory and other mental abilities.
Dr. Steven T. DeKosky at the University of Pittsburgh says that when people with two parents with Alzheimer’s ask him to quantify their risk, he tells them, “it’s our strong hope that by the time they reach the age of risk, we’ll have better interventions.” His recommendation is to control cholesterol and keep blood pressure under check, as well as to stay active mentally.
While hope makes us vulnerable, it helps us survive. It is this hope that makes people at risk for Alzheimer’s worldwide, look forward to a cure that could help them.