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Should everyone get a genetic test for Alzheimer's risk?

Dr. Rudy Tanzi, PhD
Neurologist

Scientists continue to make discoveries about the connection between genes and Alzheimer's disease. In this video, Dr. Rudy Tanzi reveals why he thinks it's too soon to recommend genetic testing for all individuals.


Dr. Gary Small, MD
Psychiatrist (Therapist)

Sometimes, genetic testing may be done to determine if someone may develop Alzheimer’s disease. Early onset Alzheimer’s disease runs in families. It’s passed down in an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern, and strikes 50% of the relatives. If you have that type of family history, your doctor can send you to a genetic counselor for testing. 

The doctor may call for a blood test in cases where there's a family history of early-onset Alzheimer's. To date, genetic testing offers diagnostic value only in cases of early-onset familial Alzheimer's disease. Searching for genetic mutations in individuals who do not have a strong family history of Alzheimer's and who did not show symptoms before age 65 is fruitless. The test for the apolipoprotein E (ApoE) genotype can increase diagnostic confidence somewhat, but it isn't recommended for screening purposes.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.