Healthwatch: New Study on Early Onset Alzheimer`s

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Families who have a rare inherited form of Alzheimer’s disease are taking part in a trial that aims to uncover the secrets of the deadly memory-robbing disease. The results of the study could lead to breakthroughs not just for them, but for everyone who suffers from the condition.

Marty Reiswig's family has a rare form of early onset Alzheimer's disease. The 36 year old could find out if he will also get it, but he chooses not to know.

"Becoming closer and closer to the age of onset is kind of like a huge storm on the horizon. And some days I want to know if that storm is real and is going to hit me, and other days I’m terrified to know."

Familial Alzheimer's Disease accounts for just 1% of all Alzheimer's cases. Reiswig's grandfather had it. His father started suffering from the brain-destroying condition in his early 50's. Marty's mom, Bonnie, takes care of him.

"He has to be fed. He hasn’t been able to speak since last June."

Familial Alzheimer's Disease is caused by an inherited gene mutation. Heather Snyder, Director of Medical and Scientific Operations at the Alzheimer's Association explains, "If you have one of these genetic misspellings, you will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Approximately 99.9 percent of the time."

Reiswig is taking part in the dominantly inherited Alzheimer Networks Study. It recently showed that brain scans can pick up changes 20 years before the first symptoms show.

"Our genetic problem might be the solution for so many other people. And might actually help cure Alzheimer’s."

He has advice for Alzheimer's sufferers and their families - Ask for help when you need it.

5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease. That number is expected to more than double by 2050 as the population ages.

Sponsored by: Mercy Health System