Friday, June 05, 2009

Gene Testing

Someone left a comment asking if I had gene testing. This question has been put to me two or three times this week, so I thought I would address it briefly. During my diagnosis process I had two spinal taps. An analysis of the spinal fluid showed that I carried one copy of the APOE 4 gene. APOE4 is associated with a higher risk of Alzheimer's. About a quarter of the population inherits one copy of the APOE4 gene. This increases their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by up to four times. However, you can have the APOE4 gene and not develop Alzheimer's -- you are just at greater risk. There are other genes out there associated with Alzheimer's and I'm not sure how detailed my analysis got. It showed a high level of Tau (I think that is right). I am adding a link to a publication put out by the National Insitute of Aging/National Insititute of Health that can explain it a lot better than I can. Here is the link

Both of my parents died at a relatively young age (early 60's) and my father was adopted so we don't know anything of his family history. It's possible in looking back by me and my two brothers that my grandfather may have shown signs of what they called back then "hardening of the arteries" or a dementia but we aren't sure.

Doctors don't do genetic testing though just to see if you have the disease. I say that, but then I also know people who have found doctors to do it. If you're curious, have someone in your family that has Alzheimer's you should definitley discuss it with your doctor and make that decision together.

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