Many can cope with Alzheimers risk

People who learn through genetic testing that they have a higher than average risk for Alzheimer’s disease are able to handle the bad news pretty well, results from the first major study of this suggest.

The findings aren’t enough evidence for doctors to urge more people to get genetic testing, said lead author, Dr. Robert Green. But they challenge assumptions that people will be devastated by a positive test result and misread it as certain proof they’re doomed to Alzheimer’s.

“Our participants were able to understand the risk and manage it,” said Green, a researcher at the Boston University School of Medicine.

The study was published this summer in the New England Journal of Medicine. It measured anxiety, depression and stress levels in 162 healthy adults, in their early 50s on average, who were children or siblings of people with Alzheimer’s.

After being tested, two-thirds were given the results, the other third were not. Fifty percent of those given the results tested positive for the gene; but overall, the anxiety, depression and distress scores of those who got the results and those who didn’t were about the same. — ap