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Familial Alzheimer's Disease

Familial Alzheimer's Disease

Familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD, or Familial AD) is an uncommon form of the fatal, memory-affecting disease, characterized by a diagnosis between the ages of 50 and 65, although cases have been reported in people as young as 15. Familial Alzheimer's disease accounts for about half of all early-onset instances of the disease. In order to be susceptible for Familial AD, and individual must have at least one first-degree relative (parent, sibling or child) with a history of Alzheimer's.

Causes of Familial Alzheimer's Disease

Familial Alzheimer's is caused by a mutation in at least one of three human genes:

  • Presenilin 1
  • Presenilin 2,
  • The amyloid precursor protein (APP)

While Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia in old age, familial AD tends to strike people in middle age, but its signs and symptoms are indistinguishable from other forms of Alzheimer's.

A diagnosis of Familial Alzheimer's disease can be devastating to both individuals and their family members. Many people stricken with Familial AD are still in the process of raising children and building careers. The diagnosis can be especially difficult for young children of those stricken, as emotional distress results when a parent cannot take care of them. Additionally, many individuals are forced into early retirement, creating financial stresses, from the progression of this fatal disease.

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