Learning genetic risk for Alzheimer’s may not be so distressing

Cognitively normal adults who learn that they are at high risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease do not, as some clinicians fear, spiral downward into depression, anxiety, or distress, investigators reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2013.

An analysis of data from three randomized trials testing the effects of genetic testing disclosure found that that cognitively normal adults who learned that they were homozygous for the high-risk apolipoprotein E epsilon-4 allele (APOE epsilon-4) had a spike in test-specific distress score until about 6 months after learning the results but returned to levels similar to those of heterozygous carriers, reported Dr. Jason Karlawish, Associate Director of the Penn Memory Center, and his colleagues.

“While there is no question that learning that you’re at higher risk causes some test-specific distress, this further validates that there is no long-term, sustained psychological distress,” Dr. Karlawish said in an interview with Clinical Neurology News. Read more here

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