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Can health problems cause early onset alzheimer's?
avanhorn09 posted:
Hello! I have a question about poor health and early onset alzheimer's. Alzheimer's is a condition that runs in my mother's family. My great grandfather had it and my grandma has it. Recently my mother has been showing the same symptoms that my grandma did when she was first diagnosed. She will forget having conversations with people, she has been very lazy (all she does is sit in bed or in the recliner when she gets off work), and she has had severe mood swings. It is almost impossible to disagree with her about anything because she will fly off the hinge. My mother is only 48 years old and my grandma and great grandfather were in there 60's before they were diagnosed but they were both in good health. My mother unfortunately has asthma, she still has side effects from west nile, and she is obese. I was wondering if her health problems could maybe have lead to her getting early onset alzheimer's or if there may be another issue at play here. Thank you so much for your help.
cjh1203 responded:
How upsetting to see your mother starting to show signs of Alzheimer's at such a young age. I can imagine that it scares you to death.

I'm not a medical expert, but I have read that poor general health may be linked to Alzheimer's (I don't know if it's different for early-onset Alzheimer's).

Since your mother is obese, has she been checked for things like sleep apnea and diabetes? Either of those, if untreated, can be quite serious, and I know there's a suspected link between Alzheimer's and diabetes. Depression may also cause some of her symptoms.

Can you talk to her doctor and let him/her know that you're concerned about the possibility of Alzheimer's? The doctor could probably pay special attention to her behavior at her next visit, and perhaps arrange for her to see a neurologist.

Of course, there are many other possible explanations for her behavior, so she really needs to be thoroughly checked out. Dr. London can undoubtedly give you more information.

I hope you can get some help in figuring out what's going on with your mother, and getting whatever treatment she needs.

Judith L London, PhD responded:
Dear avanhorn09,

Your mother needs to see her physician in order to determine what's really going on. She could be dehydrated. Her oxygen levels should be assessed. Even a bladder infection could be the source. Her forgetfulness may be a sign of depression.

There is also evidence to suggest that people with the health problems you describe may be at greater risk for Alzheimer's.

However, early onset Alzheimer's has a strong genetic connection with onset before the age of 60. Chances are that her parents did not have the early onset gene. With the general cause of Alzheimer's still unknown, it's had to tell.

There is another gene that has been associated with some cases of Alzheimer's after the age of 60 - the APOE4 gene. , Yet, there are people with this gene who never develop the illness.

A recent study reported that people with the APOE4 gene who exercise display a much lower incidence of Alzheimer's. Once again, physical exercise helps the brain as well as the heart.

I hope you discover the cause of her new symptoms.

Keep us posted,

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