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MINDY KIM-MILLER, MD, PhD
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My mother, her mother, and my great aunt had Alzheimers. My mother had early onset and died from the complications at 69. I am now 59. The only sibling. Do I need to take tests? If so what kind? and When? What are the percentages that I will get it? I am a single person and probably do not have the funds for long term care. I get scared when I get forgetful. My biological father was or had manic depression. I have been on Prozac for over 20 years to help with depression and obsessive compulsions.
–Anonymous, 59, Miami Beach
Types of Alzheimer’s disease
There are two basic types of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The more common form, known as late-onset AD, affects people who are usually over the age of 65. This form is thought to be due to both genetic and environmental causes.
The other, less common form is referred to as autosomal dominant, early-onset, or familial AD. This form affects people who are under the age of 65 (typically between 40-60 but can occur as early as 20). Early-onset familial AD not only affects people at an earlier age, but it also is more virulent, causing faster cognitive decline than those with late-onset AD. Early-onset AD is caused by genetic mutations, only some of which have been identified. (The list of these genes and summaries of their relative degrees of genetic association with AD are summarized on the Alzheimer Research Forum at http://www.alzforum.org/res/com/gen/alzgene/default.asp.)
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