Alzheimer's Disease in Individuals with Down Syndrome
Alzheimer's Disease and Down syndrome Overview
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia. The disease is progressive, and the brain degenerates. Alzheimer's disease is strongly associated with old age. However, it should not be considered a normal part of aging.
Down syndrome (DS) is a genetic disorder (the chromosome abnormality is acquired at the time of conception) in which a person has extra genes because of extra chromosome 21 material. The syndrome causes delays and limitations in physical and intellectual development. The extra chromosome material can be inherited from either parent. Common characteristics of the syndrome include:
People with Down syndrome, also called trisomy 21, develop a syndrome of dementia that has the same characteristics of Alzheimer's disease that occurs in individuals without Down syndrome. The only difference is that Alzheimer's disease occurs much earlier in people with Down syndrome; patients with Down syndrome begin to have symptoms in their late 40s or early 50s.
Most (and maybe all) people with Down syndrome develop the brain changes associated with Alzheimer's disease. However, Alzheimer's disease is not more common in individuals with intellectual disabilities from causes other than Down syndrome. The percent of people with Down syndrome that have Alzheimer's disease increases with age, with a majority occurring in people older than 60. Alzheimer's disease decreases survival in people with Down syndrome who are older than 45 years of age.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/1/2014
Norberto Alvarez, MD
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
Must Read Articles Related to Alzheimer's Disease in Down Syndrome
Patient Comments & Reviews
The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Alzheimer's Disease in Individuals With Down Syndrome:
Alzheimer's Disease in People with Down syndrome - Symptoms
Do you have a loved one with both Alzheimer's and Down syndrome? Please describe the symptoms.
Alzheimer's Disease in People with Down syndrome - Treatment
What treatment did your loved one receive for Alzheimer's and Down syndrome?
- 10 Tips for Senior Health
- How Is Atrial Fibrillation Affecting You?
- Are We Close to a Cure for Cancer?
- Early Care for Your Premature Baby
- What to Eat When You Have Cancer
- When to Take More Pain Medication
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape
Alzheimer disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia. It is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain, strongly associated with advanced age.