Is There A Genetic Test For Alzheimer's Disease, When Is It Recommended, And Is It Covered By Insurance?

Rudolph Tanzi answers the question: 'Is There A Genetic Test For Alzheimer's?'

ByRudolph Tanzi, Ph.D., Director, Genetics and Aging Research Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital
November 19, 2008, 12:19 PM

May 4, 2009 -- Question: Is there a genetic test for Alzheimer's disease, when is it recommended, and is it covered by insurance?

Answer: Currently, the only reliable genetic test for Alzheimer's disease is for those cases that strike early in life, under 60 years old, and it's recommended only when you see a familial clustering of the disease with an early onset, and even then it really is a personal decision of the patient and the family as to whether they want to have such a test. In the vast majority of Alzheimer's disease that strikes late in life, we do not yet have a genetic test. There is one risk factor -- and some companies are testing for it -- but it is not sufficient to predict the disease and thus is not recommended yet as a genetic test.

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