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Dementia

Updated 18 April 2013

Brain changes in relatives Alzheimer's patients

Study finding doesn't mean you'll get the disease if family members have it, experts stress.

If Alzheimer's disease runs in your family, you may be more likely to have brain changes associated with the disorder even before symptoms such as memory and thinking problems occur, according to new research.

An estimated 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, a number expected to increase dramatically as the baby boomer generation ages. The Alzheimer's Association predicts that the number of people aged 65 and older with the condition will reach 7.1 million by 2025.

To get a better handle on risk for Alzheimer's disease, researchers at Duke University looked at brain scans of more than 250 adults aged 55 to 89. Some had no signs of memory or thinking problems, while others did.

"In early-onset Alzheimer's disease, the genetics are much more clear-cut and we can test family members and know if they will develop Alzheimer's," said senior author Dr P Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke.


 

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