SEATTLE - People who have parents diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or dementia may be more likely to have memory loss themselves in middle age, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 61st Annual Meeting in Seattle, April 25 to May 2, 2009.
For the study, researchers used the Framingham Heart Study to follow three generations of participants to study risk factors of Alzheimer's and other diseases. A total of 715 people belonging to the second generation of the Framingham Heart Study with an average age of 59 were included in the research. One group of 282 people had one or both parents with diagnosed dementia. The other group of 433 people had parents without dementia. Scientists tested for a gene thought to be a strong risk factor for dementia, called the ApoEe4 gene.
Among people who were carriers of the ApoEe4 gene, those who had parents with Alzheimer's disease or other dementia had two to three times the risk of having low verbal and visual memory performances than people who did not have parents with Alzheimer's disease.
"This result in people with parents who have Alzheimer's disease is equivalent to about 15 years of brain aging," said study author Stephanie Debette, MD, PhD, of Boston University and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. "The effect was largely limited to those who have the ApoEe4 gene, which supports the idea that the gene is probably at least partially responsible for the transmission of Alzheimer's disease risk between generations. However, all of these individuals were functioning normally, and only further testing can determine whether the poorer performance on memory testing in middle age would lead to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or other dementia later in life."
The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 21,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as multiple sclerosis, restless legs syndrome, Alzheimer's disease, narcolepsy, and stroke.
For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit www.aan.com.
The AAN 61st Annual Meeting, the world's largest gathering of neurology professionals, takes place April 25 to May 2, 2009, in Seattle. Visit www.aan.com/am for more information.
To access 2009 AAN Annual Meeting abstracts available February 25, 2009, visit http://www.
Late-breaking abstracts will be featured in press release at the 2009 AAN Annual Meeting in Seattle.