Is Alzheimer's Disease Genetic?

September 3, 2023

There are certain hereditary genes associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s. However, there is no definitive answer as to whether a family history of the disease guarantees you’ll get it. That’s because lifestyle factors can influence Alzheimer’s development too.

What Causes Alzheimer’s?

It results from a buildup of beta-amyloid plaques between the neurons in your brain. Plaque forms when beta-amyloid proteins clump together and prevent signals from firing between brain cells. Tau proteins may also become tangled and exacerbate the effects of plaque buildup. Your neurons will begin to die off as the tangles form.

Genetics and Alzheimer’s

There are two types of genes that affect your chances of developing Alzheimer’s:

Risk genes: Those genes increase your Alzheimer’s risk but don’t guarantee its development. APOE-e4 gene is considered a high-risk gene for Alzheimer’s, which you can receive from one or both parents. Roughly 40% to 65% of those with the disease have APOE-e4.

Deterministic genes: That type of gene causes Alzheimer’s but is extremely rare. Deterministic genes include APP, PSEN1 and PSEN2, which affect the production of beta-amyloid plaques.

Alzheimer’s Risk Factors

Age: Your likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s increases with age. Most cases occur in people 65 and older, and their risk doubles every five years afterward.

Family history: While Alzheimer’s isn’t considered hereditary, you are more likely to get it if you have a parent or sibling with the disease. However, having a close family member develop Alzheimer’s is not conclusive evidence that you will too.

Head injuries: Trauma caused by falls, crashes or being struck can result in long-term damage that impacts cognition and increases the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s.

Cardiac conditions: Heart disease, poor circulation, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes can impact blood flow and damage blood vessels. You may be more likely to get diagnosed with Alzheimer’s if you have poor cardiac health.

How to Manage Your Risk of Alzheimer’s

While genetic factors are out of your control, the following tips could help lower your risk of getting Alzheimer’s as you age:

  • Staying active can lower your risk of Alzheimer’s. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise three to four times a week.
  • Include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein in your diet.
  • Socialize to stimulate your brain and reduce your risk of isolation and depression.
  • Manage high blood pressure to avoid blood vessel damage.
  • Eliminate tobacco use as it can exacerbate cardiac conditions that impact your brain health.
  • Get plenty of sleep. The process clears the beta-amyloid proteins that build up in your brain throughout the day.
  • Manage your stress level.
  • Reduce the potential for head trauma and falls.

Empower Memory Care at Embassy Healthcare

The Empower Memory Care program is designed to help those with any type of dementia enjoy a quality living experience. We take a holistic approach to memory care to ensure each resident feels comfortable, safe and happy.

We strive to manage behaviors caused by dementia and reduce the need for psychotropic medications. The Embassy team conducts several assessments to determine the level of care for each resident and create a custom plan to address the medical and emotional needs of each individual.

Call 216-378-2050 to learn more about Empower Memory Care and schedule a tour online.