Early Onset Alzheimer’s or Familial Alzheimer’s Disease

Learn about Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease (EOAD) symptoms, causes, and treatment options. Understand the genetic disorder that primarily affects people in their 40s and 50s and why early diagnosis is important.

Early Onset Alzheimer’s or Familial Alzheimer’s Disease
Early Onset Alzheimer's Is also known as Familial Alzheimer's Disease

When someone develops Alzheimer’s before age 65, doctors refer to it as early onset Alzheimer’s disease. This type of dementia is rare, occurring in only about five percent of AD cases primarily affecting people in their 40s and 50s.

Also known as FAD, or familial Alzheimer’s disease. Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease is inherited. It is an autosomal dominant genetic pattern. It usually strikes someone. who has a least one close relative (especially a parent or grandparent) with Alzheimer’s.

When EOAD affects someone without a history of familial AD… the dementia is then referred to as “sporadic Alzheimer’s disease”.

EOAD results from a mutation in at least one of three genes:

Resenilin 1

Presenilin 2

The gene that researchers think causes the destructive plaques and tangles. It is called the amyloid precursor protein.

Clinical Features of Early Onset Alzheimer’s

People suffering from EOAD seem to experience cognitive impairment emphasizing visuospatial problems. This,rather than loss of memory.

For example:

You have regular issues with judging distances, accurately

Or assessing your driving speed

Walking into doorframes instead of through doorways

or become disoriented in familiar places at age 55.

This may mean you could be suffering from EOAD. Especially if a parent or grandparent had the disease.

Doctors think the reason why EOAD and typical Alzheimer’s symptoms differ is because it involves contrasting cortical atrophy patterns. These are seen in MRI scans of people with EOAD.

According to the article… “The topography of gray matter involvement in early and late onset Alzheimer’s disease”… written by Giovanni Frison et al and published in Brain:  A Journal of Neurology (2007), … Early onset Alzheimer’s disease and late onset Alzheimer’s may in fact be separate diseases.

Studies indicate that functioning of the neocortex is much more affected in EOAD More than in LOAD. The article suggests that LOAD and EOAD may even have different etiological factors. These contribute to the emergence at a particular time in someone’s life.

Gray matter atrophy is more severe in people with EOAD. An observation that may suggest it may be a more aggressive type of dementia.

Brain imaging scans support the idea …brains affected by EOAD suffer from an initially heavier amount of… plaques and tangles in the neocortex than brains affected by LOAD.

People over 65 diagnosed with AD, have more plaques and tangles. Damaging the hippocampal region, which is responsible for memory and learning.

Alzheimer’s test research studies have discovered that EOAD exhibits… a stronger genetic predisposition. While late onset Alzheimer’s may be acutely more sensitive to environmental factors.

Genetics and Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease

This includes things such as :

The person’s health

Stress level

Educational background

lifestyle choices. These negatively impact brain functioning.

Early Onset Alzheimer’s Symptoms

Someone with EOAD may have thought processes that involve visual and spatial awareness. They may also have with short-term memory loss. They may frequently misplacing items that are commonly used such: as keys or cell phones. And they have the inability to learn new tasks.

EOAD patient cannot form a simple conclusion by analyzing and processing the facts. Sentences may become choppy and sometimes incomprehensible. This is because the person suffering from EOAD cannot remember the words… necessary to complete a thought.

If you have early onset Alzheimer’s, you may place your watch or toothbrush in the refrigerator. Then forget doing it. Only to stumble upon the items later.Without any recollection of performing the activity. Relatives and friends may notice a distinct personality or behavioral change.

Someone who was once quiet and unassuming may start talking loudly and aggressively… in a restaurant over a mistake in the order. Mood swings can be rapid and unexpected. With the person feeling apathetic one minute and anxious in another.

It is important to receive a diagnosis of EOAD as soon as possible. Treatment intervention can start inhibiting the progression of the disease.

Doctors will perform:

A series of blood tests



Psychological assessments

To determine whether EOAD exists.

Any family history of Alzheimer’s, should always be disclosed. This helps the accuracy of the diagnosis.

Prevention Techniques

You cannot do anything about your genetic make-up. You can eat healthy. Exercise regularly. Keep stress to a minimum in your life. Stimulate your mind by… socializing, playing games, taking classes and doing puzzles in your spare time. Maintaining an active, motivated, and engaged lifestyle appears to… reduce the risk of developing both EOAD and LOAD.

Three important facets of overall good blood vessel health:

Cholesterol level

Blood pressure

Blood glucose level

Are factors that are highly influential in triggering Alzheimer’s disease.

Making sure that your brain receives sufficient blood flow… by keeping blood vessels unclogged and strong. This can substantially delay early onset Alzheimer’s as well as other forms of dementia.

Have a story about a family member with Early Onset Alzheimer's disease? Have fears and concerns? Please share here? Help others realize that they are not alone. Submit Your Caregiver Story
Have more questions? Check out the Frequently Asked Question section of the website. You will find a lot of different questions answered directly.





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