Study: Alzheimer's Could Strike Sooner Than Thought

A new study by the Boston University School of Medicine says people whose parents have Alzheimer's disease or dementia can develop memory problems much earlier than previously thought.

Alzheimer's symptoms typically don't appear until after age 70. But the BU researchers found that people in their 50s sometimes have declining memory if they carry a gene linked to the disease and if their parents have Alzheimer's.

The researchers say the study doesn't necessarily mean that people who have the Alzheimer's gene and whose parents have Alzheimer's will also get the disease.

But they do advise that people who fit that profile do everything they can to ward off mental decline. That includes staying intellectually engaged, exercising, and maintaining good health.

To do their research, the BU scientists studied 715 participants in the Framingham Heart Study.

This program aired on February 19, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

Sacha Pfeiffer Twitter Host, All Things Considered
Sacha Pfeiffer was formerly the host of WBUR's All Things Considered.