Well Being

Q What can I do to find out my chances? Would genetic testing help?

A

Probably not. For example, a negative test result for the genes linked statistically with a higher than normal risk of Alzheimer’s wouldn’t prevent you developing dementia in later years.

Being given a positive result doesn’t mean you’ll develop Alzheimer’s – it only slightly raises your chances.  As we don’t yet know how to prevent Alzheimer’s, or how to reverse its effects once established, there doesn’t seem any point in having the test.

Q I have diabetes and have had minor heart problems. My doctor advised me to take aspirin every day to prevent a heart attack or stroke, but a recent report suggested it didn’t work. Do I really have to take it?

A The report (on 2,500 Japanese people) was on the taking of aspirin to prevent complications in people with diabetes who are otherwise healthy. They had so few trial ‘events’ (illnesses) that it was impossible to show whether or not aspirin helped or worsened their prospects.

As you already have a heart problem, that trial was irrelevant to you: your doctor is following standard guidelines in prescribing aspirin. Whether it will help to prevent heart attacks and strokes in diabetes without any sign, yet, of vascular complications, is now in doubt. That may be resolved when two large trials on the subject are reported soon.

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