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Decoding the Genetic Influence on Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Dementia

The Kensington Redondo Beach is proud to partner with The Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Care at UCLA to host our latest informative event.

The specialists in Alzheimer’s and dementia, Dr. Kacie Deters and Dr. Jessica Rexach are partnering with us to explore genetics’ role in neurodegenerative disorders and discuss the newest developments in the field.

We invite you to be part of this enriching exploration of genetic factors influencing brain health in our upcoming webinar, “Know Your Genes: How Family History Affects Brain Health.”

RSVP to participate in this free webinar on Wednesday, June 7, at 3 PM (PDT).

How family history can impact brain health: Understanding the link to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other forms of dementia

Family history plays a significant role in determining an individual’s risk of developing various health conditions, including brain-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other forms of dementia.

But how significant is that role? Let’s break it down.

Genetic factors and brain health

While the exact genetic mechanisms underlying conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are still being studied, researchers have identified specific genes associated with increased susceptibility to these conditions.

Genes associated with early-onset Alzheimer’s include APP, PSEN1, and PSEN2. The gene APOE is associated with late-onset Alzheimer’s.

It’s important to note that having a genetic predisposition does not guarantee the development of the disease, but it can elevate the risk. Genetic testing for Alzheimer’s is complex and involved and is not recommended for everyone.

Huntington’s disease and family history

Huntington’s disease is a hereditary neurological disorder caused by mutations in the HTT gene. This genetic mutation is passed down in an autosomal dominant pattern, meaning that if a parent carries the mutated gene, there is a 50% chance they will pass it on to their children.

The HTT gene mutation leads to the production of an abnormal form of the Huntington protein, which gradually damages cells in certain regions of the brain.

As a result, individuals with a family history of Huntington’s disease are at risk of inheriting the mutation and developing the condition.

Genetic testing can accurately determine whether someone carries the HTT gene mutation, allowing individuals to make informed decisions about family planning and future healthcare.

Parkinson’s disease and family history

Parkinson’s disease also has a genetic component, although most cases are not directly inherited. Mutations in genes such as LRRK2, SNCA, and PARK2 have been associated with familial Parkinson’s disease.

However, most Parkinson’s cases are sporadic. That means that these cases often occur without a clear genetic link.

Diagnosing Parkinson’s disease: medical history and neurological examination

Diagnosing Parkinson’s disease primarily relies on a thorough medical history assessment and a comprehensive neurological examination.

Currently, there are no specific blood or laboratory tests to diagnose non-genetic cases of Parkinson’s disease. However, if a person’s symptoms improve after starting medication, it can provide further confirmation of the Parkinson’s diagnosis.

Certain disorders, such as multiple system atrophy and dementia with Lewy bodies, can cause symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease. These conditions, known as parkinsonism, may initially be misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s.

To evaluate the cause of symptoms accurately, additional medical tests and the response to drug treatment are often utilized.

Getting an accurate diagnosis as early as possible is crucial. Different diseases may have similar features but require distinct treatment approaches. The earlier that a condition can be accurately diagnosed, the sooner that the individual can receive the proper treatment.

Diagnosing Huntington’s disease: approaches and tests

A Huntington’s disease diagnosis involves a detailed physical and neurological examination, especially considering other conditions can cause similar symptoms.

A significant indicator is often a family history of the disorder. Special blood tests can assess the likelihood of developing Huntington’s disease by analyzing the presence of the HTT gene mutation.

In addition, imaging tests such as CT scans can evaluate brain cell damage and tissue loss, while MRI or PET scans may also be utilized in the diagnostic process.

These diagnostic approaches and tests aid healthcare providers in accurately diagnosing Huntington’s disease, enabling appropriate care and treatment planning for individuals and their families.

Beyond genetics: shared environment and lifestyle

While genetics play a significant role, shared environment, and lifestyle factors within families can also contribute to the risk of developing brain disorders.

Families often share similar habits, dietary patterns, and exposure to environmental factors, all of which can impact brain health.

Lifestyle factors and brain health

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of developing brain disorders, even in individuals with a family history.

Regular physical exercise, a balanced diet rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, mental stimulation, and social engagement have all been linked to better brain health and a lower risk of dementia.

Awareness and early detection

Understanding your family history and its potential impact on brain health is crucial for early detection and intervention.

If you have a family history of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or other forms of dementia, be aware of the warning signs and consult with healthcare professionals to conduct any necessary testing.

Genetic testing and counseling

Genetic testing can provide individuals with valuable information about their genetic risk for certain brain disorders.

Genetic counseling is recommended to help individuals understand their test results, assess their risk accurately, and make informed decisions regarding their health.

Stay updated with The Kensington Redondo Beach

At The Kensington Redondo Beach, a dedicated assisted living and memory care community, we stay current on the latest medical advancements and incorporate them into our resident care plans.

Our Promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own, which can offer you peace of mind when you transition your loved one to a senior living community.

Our commitment to integrating insights from medical experts allows us to deliver superior memory care services.

We offer an array of amenities, including life enrichment activities, all-day dining, on-site rehabilitation, and more.

We take pride in providing unparalleled memory care support to those affected by Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and other types of dementia.

Please join us in our upcoming educational webinar, “Know Your Genes: How Family History Affects Brain Health” to gain more insights about genetics and neurodegenerative diseases.

Contact us for more information about our how we live Our Promise to love and care for your family as we do our own.

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