March 15, 2023
Discover your risk of developing dementia with GenomeLink's Dementia Ancestry analysis. Explore your ancestry composition and genetics to gain insights into your genetic predisposition to this disease.
Dementia DNA Analysis: What to Know
Genetic testing allows people to look into the details of their DNA. From the extensive results these sorts of tests provide, you’ll gain insightful information about your heritage and genetics – and this can help you determine what sort of illnesses or conditions you might be predisposed to encounter, and what sort of lifestyle you should lead for optimal health and wellness.Some of these tests are more specific than others, and if you already know what sort of illnesses or conditions run in your family, you might opt for a test that hones in on a single ailment: like a dementia hereditary analysis, which is one of the most common neurological ailments to occur in people over the age of 65.Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia: in 2023, about 6.5 million Americans live with this iteration of the illness. In general, dementia occurred in about three percent of American adults in 2019, and seems to be more common among women and minorities.If dementia has afflicted one or more individuals in your family, you may be at a higher risk to inherit these traits – and you may want to pursue a dementia DNA test to figure out what your risk level actually looks like.
What is dementia?
Dementia is a neurological disease that makes remembering, thinking, or making decisions much more difficult than normal, rendering everyday living complicated, confusing, and even painful: both for the sufferer and the sufferer’s immediate family and friends.Dementia is not a singular disease: it’s an umbrella term covering diseases like Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Vascular dementia, or mixed dementia – a.k.a., dementia from two or more of the umbrella-ed terms.As we mentioned, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for about 60-80 percent of all dementia cases. Vascular dementia is the second most common form: a version of dementia that is defined by microscopic neurological bleeding and brain blood vessel blockage.The neurological disease is most commonly found in older people, but can occur as early as in a person’s 30s – although this is quite rare. Dementia is also an hereditary disease, which is why many people seek out a dementia DNA test when they’ve seen others in their family suffer through this ailment.
Early signs and symptoms of dementia
Signs and symptoms of dementia can vary greatly, depending on the person. However, these are some of the most common signs that dementia is in play, and details to keep in mind if you’re considering getting a dementia hereditary analysis or dementia DNA test:
- Memory loss
- Poor judgment
- Difficulty speaking, reading, writing, or comprehending thought
- Wandering around and/or getting lost
- Repeating oneself
- Trouble handling money responsibly
- Using incorrect words to refer to familiar objects
- Loss of interest in normal daily activities
- Difficulty in completing everyday tasks
- Hallucinations or paranoia
- Lack of empathy
- Issues with balance or mobility
What causes dementia?
Knowing the cause of dementia, beyond genetics, is important: especially if you’re looking into a dementia DNA analysis (or wondering if you should be).Essentially, dementia is born from brain cell damage – damage significant enough that it interferes with your brain cells’ ability to communicate with one another. This can have a major effect on normal thinking, behavior, and feeling. Unfortunately, researchers haven’t yet found a way to prevent or cure dementia, and little is known about what sort of brain damage informs what type of dementia a person might suffer from. But science, through a dementia hereditary analysis, does allow us to learn if we might be predisposed to developing the disease.
Factors that increase the likelihood of dementia
While a lot of research and understanding still needs to be conducted around dementia and its causes, researchers have been able to determine a few common factors that seem to increase the likelihood of a person getting some form of dementia.
- Age: Dementia tends to afflict people who are 65 years or older, with a few rare cases hitting people in their 30s or 40s.
- Genetics or family history: If you have parents or siblings who suffer or suffered from dementia, you are more likely to develop the neurological disease. This is why people will turn to a dementia DNA test to gather some more insight on this possibility – especially if the family history is unknown.
- Poor heart health: Researchers have found that things like high blood pressure, smoking, and high cholesterol seem to increase a person’s chance of suffering from dementia.
- Ethnicity: Minorities tend to be more likely to suffer from dementia down the line. If your ethnicity is unknown, this could be another reason to have a dementia hereditary analysis done.
- Traumatic brain injury: Dementia is caused by brain damage, so if your head has been injured, you are probably more susceptible to developing the neurological disease.
How dementia is diagnosed
A single test to determine whether or not someone has dementia doesn’t exist yet, but generally, dementia is diagnosed in a number of ways: medical or family history, a physical examination, laboratory tests (like brain scans or MRIs), and reported changes in everyday thinking, function, and behavior. While a doctor can pretty easily diagnose whether or not someone has dementia from these factors, it’s still difficult for the medical community to figure out which form of dementia is at play. This is why the disease remains largely untreatable, difficult to prevent, and an overall mystery to the healthcare system.
How does a dementia DNA analysis work?
A dementia DNA analysis can help a person understand whether or not they have a chance of developing dementia. This is especially helpful for someone who isn’t connected to any family members, and has no idea whether or not the neurological disease runs in their family. If you’re looking into a dementia hereditary analysis or dementia DNA analysis, you might be wondering what to expect. You can typically find a dementia DNA test at major DNA testing companies like 23andMe or MyHeritage. Once you purchase a test specific to dementia testing, you’ll simply provide a DNA sample (usually a swab of saliva) to the company, and wait for the results to come in. The main thing you’ll want to keep in mind for a dementia DNA test is that these tests aren’t 100 percent accurate. While they’ll give you a good idea of whether or not you’re prone to the neurological disease, you can’t rely entirely on their results.You may want to combine a dementia DNA analysis with a checkup with your physician. Positive test results for the dementia gene might not be 100 percent reliable, but they’ll certainly inform your decision to consult a doctor and dig a little deeper into the possibility.
Why should I get a dementia DNA analysis done?
Dementia DNA tests are widely available and helpful for those wondering whether or not they’re predisposed to have some form of dementia. Here are some of the main reasons you might want to look into this type of test for yourself or someone you love:
- Your family history is unknown.
If you’re unsure of your family history, this is a major reason to conduct a dementia DNA analysis – or any other type of genetic analysis you can access.Not knowing your family history means you really have no idea what sort of illnesses or conditions you might be at a higher risk of contracting – and for dementia specifically. A dementia hereditary analysis could be life-saving for you to find this out in time to take preventative measures against developing the disease.
- Dementia runs in your family.
Maybe you know for a fact that dementia runs in your family. This is another big reason to get a dementia hereditary analysis done. Taking the test will help you determine whether or not that gene is coming your way, and what you might be able to do to avoid that from happening.A dementia DNA test can also be helpful if you’re planning on having children. Is dementia something you could possibly pass down to offspring? That might be something you’ll want to figure out, if only for your own peace of mind.
- To ensure you’re doing what you can to prevent dementia in the future.
While a lot of information around dementia’s causes and treatments remain unknown, having the awareness from a dementia DNA analysis that you might develop the disease can help you try and take some preventative measures. Researchers have revealed that dementia is caused by brain damage, so your best bet against the disease is strengthening that noggin: remaining an active reader, problem-solving, and exercising and eating foods that enrich and empower the mind are a few ways to actively work against the odds of dementia.