Alzheimer’s disease, the top cause of dementia, starts manifesting as progressive memory loss that affects psychiatric features, causes loss of cognitive ability, and affects deeper brain areas.
The condition affects more than 500,000 people in the UK, with over 90% aged 65 years and older. One out of four Alzheimer’s disease patients over 55 years old has had a first relative with the same disease.
The average risk of developing this condition during your life is 10%–12%. This figure doubles if one has a close relative suffering from the disorder.
Due to the complicated nature of Alzheimer’s disease, only a few health experts know how to conduct genetic diagnostics. At Cognes, we assess the patient’s genetic risk, identify the individual affected by the tests, and provide genetic counseling to patients.
The Genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is divided into two main categories: early-onset (EOAD) affects those below 60–65 years and is responsible for about 1–5% of the total AD cases.
Late-onset affects people later in life, after 60–65 years. This type is the most dominant and accounts for over 95% of the total cases.
How Genetics Relates to Alzheimer’s Disease
Genes play a role in the development of many types of dementia, and that includes AD. Research shows that those related to people with the condition have higher chances of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. It is known that the risk of developing AD depends mainly on genetic factors, sex, etc.
Tests also show that changes in a small number of genes may lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, there is a unique relationship between the two.
So how exactly do they connect?
Scientists are still researching the topic. Currently, the two options are genetic analysis and diagnostic methods. Let’s look at each one of them individually.
Predictive Genetic Analysis
Predictive genetic testing helps to diagnose the occurrence of AD by considering certain factors. It is important to note that a patient needs predictive testing when a mutation is detected in the family. Otherwise, it is not necessary to take the test.
The test focuses on patients related by birth to somebody already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The aim is to determine if the mutation will continue to occur.
Predictive genetic testing is done to identify rare mutations in three genes, the most common being APOE. APOE also has variants, and most experts focus on the e4 variant. The variant increases a patient’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
This genetic testing helps some patients, but research shows that it has a low predictive score. There are situations where people test positive for one or two copies of APOE e4 but do not develop the disorder.
Advantages of Predictive Genetic Testing
Taking predictive genetic testing for Alzheimer’s disease is not that easy, as one cannot unlearn the information they get. However, health experts recommend people take the test because it helps them:
- Remove any uncertainty or anxiety
- Plan for the future
- Make family planning decisions
At Cognes, our qualified health experts and specialists offer predictive genetic testing. Cognes is a reputable healthcare organization that performs predictive Alzheimer’s disease tests on its patients. We are a choice for many because our services are cost-effective, patient-convenient, and can estimate the presence of biomarkers.
Diagnostic Genetic Testing
Diagnostic genetic testing is the best option when identifying genetic changes that do not show a clear mutation. The test is done on patients already diagnosed with AD. It is not common, and experts recommend it if the condition shows a strong pattern of family inheritance.
Diagnostic genetic testing takes into consideration medical history across three generations. This includes the age when symptoms started, the age of any death, medical records, and post-mortem findings.
This form of testing also helps identify mental illnesses and neurological diseases.
All patients need to go through brief counseling before taking the tests. It helps in giving the patient moral support in case the results are positive. During the brief counseling, the doctor reassures the patient that one might have a strong AD inheritance pattern but does not have the disorder.
Importance of Genetic Testing In Family Planning
Genetic testing plays an important role when it comes to family planning matters. The genetic testing of the embryo helps prevent the mother from transferring the condition to the child.
This process is known as Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), a modified form of in vitro fertilization. The process involves early testing of the embryo to determine the affected ones in a mutation lab. After the test, only the ones lacking the mutation get placed back into the mother’s womb.
The PGD tests prove to be of help to couples starting families. It is a preventative measure to keep their babies safe and free from the disorder. They are safe and proven to work effectively.
Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease
Currently, there is no proven treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. However, there are procedures patients can use to prevent or slow down the occurrence of this disorder. The two primary processes one can try are cholinesterase inhibitors or N-methyl-D-aspartic acid receptor antagonists.
For the two processes, it is essential to seek help from health experts who are familiar with the task.
Patients already diagnosed with AD should attend genetic counseling to learn tips on how to take care of themselves and their loved ones. They should also get advice on some of the lifestyle changes to make to promote good cardiovascular health. This helps keep the condition at bay.
Advice Before Conducting Any Genetic Tests
Health experts understand how crucial and emotional the results from the tests can be. Before taking any genetic test, health experts advise on the following:
- Patients should be accompanied by a close relative to offer emotional support.
- A pedigree should be used to conduct the risk assessment and determine if the family is consistent with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Prenatal testing is not suitable for prenatal mothers who want to keep their pregnancy.
If you need testing and analysis for Alzheimer’s, visit our Cognes health care office. We offer affordable treatments, are scalable, and help in the early diagnosis of the condition.