Troubling discovery worse in those with two parents with the disease
Adults who have elderly parents diagnosed with Alzheimer’s may have a new reason to worry. Research published last week in the journal Neurology finds Alzheimer’s-related abnormalities in the brains of adult children of people with this form of dementia, even in middle age, when the grown children aren’t yet experiencing problems with memory or mental skills. The troubling findings were most pronounced in the brains of those with two parents suffering from the disease.
The findings echo previous research that suggests a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s is greater when his or her mother has had the disease than when his or her father has.
For the study, 52 participants (13 with a mom diagnosed after age 60, 13 with a dad diagnosed after age 60, 13 with both parents suffering the disease and 13 with no family history of Alzheimer’s) ranging in age from 32 to 72 underwent MRI scans and two types of PET scans.
Those with two parents suffering the memory-stealing disease showed the most gray matter shrinkage and the most amyloid plaque deposits, key signs of Alzheimer’s.
Researchers hope the study allows health-care professionals to identify people who could benefit most from therapies to prevent or delay progression of Alzheimer’s before it causes memory loss or other impaired cognitive function. Though there is currently no cure for the disease, scientists are hard at work on finding a therapy that could halt it.