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StaySharp Tip #2. Start Right Now!

The time to start looking after your brain and cognitive function is right now! Read about a patients persistence.

Start giving your brain the love and respect it deserves.

Action Plan: Screen for genes that are associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s

Have you ever wished you knew something sooner?

Many people still believe that there is nothing you can do about this disease and so it is better to simply not know. Many medical professionals are unaware of recent genetic-based research and do not know what type of diagnostic tests are available or required.

At iDNA Health we have been reporting on genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s for many years, especially to patients that have a strong family history of the disease, which makes it more likely that they will have inherited the high-risk genes. What has been most concerning is how difficult it has been for patients to get any information or insight regarding their risk of Alzheimer’s disease and how difficult it is to get a diagnostic assessment.

More than 95% of our patients with a strong family history of Alzheimer’s choose to be genetically screened once they understand that knowledge will empower them. Read on to find out more about why this is such an important step to take.

Loss of Memory and Cognitive Decline. What’s Normal?

It’s never too early to start looking after your brain and in fact, the earlier you start the better. The graph below is only an illustration of the relative cognitive decline of someone with a dementia like Alzheimer’s disease compared to normal age-related cognitive decline.

It’s natural to experience some cognitive decline as we age, just like we experience a decline in our physical abilities, but Alzheimer’s disease is not a natural decline in cognitive ability. It is a more rapid decline that significantly impacts on an individual’s ability to perform normal daily tasks and activities.

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Protect Your Cognitive Function

Ideally, you don’t want to wait until decline is underway. The best time to act is 20-30 years before the decline starts, when you’re 20-30 years. But better to start at any age than not to start at all.

It’s only natural to look at this chart and not want to be the person with a rapid decline. The advantage of genetic screening is that it will tell you if you have the high-risk Alzheimer’s genes that will make this rapid decline much more likely. And yes, that news can be confronting, but knowing enables you to be proactive and actively support and protect your cognitive function. Doing nothing is what puts you at the greatest risk.

We have to stop thinking in binary terms, “have Alzheimer’s” or “don’t have Alzheimer’s” and begin to think of our memory and cognitive function as a continuum that we have the power to influence. The aim of every one of us should be to flatten out the curve, to have the decline begin at a much later age and to be much more gradual.

What Genetic Screening can tell you. Don’t assume the news is all bad.

Increased Risk. Genetic screening will identify if you have the single biggest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. At iDNA Health we can screen if you have the APOE4 allele, which is not only the most important genetic risk factor but the most significant risk factor we know to date. But as we say, knowledge is power.

  • However, you may find out that you missed the high risk APOE4, or perhaps you have the highly protective APOE2. One of our patients, whose mother and father both had Alzheimer’s, found out they had not inherited the high-risk APOE4. Huge sense of relief!

Screen other Genetic Risk Factors

  • Research has identified more than 60 genes associated with risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Investigate Rate of Cognitive Decline

  • Genetic risk factors impact on rate of cognitive decline.
  • Screen if you have the genes that are associated with rapid cognitive decline.
One Patients Story of Persistence. Education is Key.

This is the experience of one or our patients.

The family had noticed a decline in this patient’s cognitive ability and memory. Genetic screening showed this patient had the most significant genetic risk factor, the APOE4 allele.

The patient was already under the care of a neurologist who had previously done an MRI (which is not a good diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s). Due to the patient having the very high-risk APOE4 gene, we requested a PET Amyloid Brain Scan. Unfortunately, the neurologist refused and chose instead to perform another MRI. The MRI showed no change and the neurologist informed the patient they did not have Alzheimer’s and to stop worrying as they were not going to develop the disease.

Fortunately, because we knew the patient had the APOE4 gene, we kept persisting. Eventually, persistence paid off and the neurologist agreed (nine months later) and ordered the PET amyloid scan, after which the neurologist informed the patient they did, in fact, have Alzheimer’s disease due to the presence of amyloid plaque in the brain.

It is so important to undertake the right type of diagnostic test to get the correct diagnosis, and then the correct intervention.

At iDNA Health we offer comprehensive, co-ordinated and accessible diagnostics and interventions.

In collaboration with Smart Minds WA, we are very pleased to be able to offer to the public the most comprehensive diagnostic testing in relation to Alzheimer’s disease and follow up care.

  • Genetic Screening – Brain + Memory Package
  • Cognitive Assessment
  • Glucose Metabolism Brain Scan
  • PET Amyloid Brain San
  • DNA-Based Diet and Lifestyle Intervention Programs – Stay Sharp Program
  • Referral to Research Projects
  • Referral to ADNet. The Federal Government’s Alzheimer’s/Dementia Registry.

Contact us today to get started on your Personalised Health Journey.