'Grey's Anatomy' Alzheimer's Test: Isn't Meredith Too Young?

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Patrick Dempsey Ellen PompeoGrey's Anatomy may be a show about hot young things (and if you happened to catch Thursday night's episode, hot young things with smoking hot abs courtesy of Jesse Williams), but the cast's own health issues are aging them these days.

SPOILER ALERT

In an episode dubbed "Can't Fight Biology" that kicked off with a visit to the OB/GYN to discuss Meredith Grey's childbearing capabilities -- talk about growing up -- the subject of how today's actions affect tomorrow's future weighed heavily.

And it came to roost in the form of an Alzheimer's test.

On a young woman.

Yup, after encountering a patient who had gone through genetic testing for Huntington's disease, Meredith Grey is finally facing her genes and what mom Ellis Grey's early onset Alzheimer's could mean for her future. She might only be in her early 30s, but there's a reason next week's episode has been named "Almost Grown"; she's finally getting to the point where she's looking at a life plan.

So what can she find out?

Possibly nothing. The genetic tests for Alzheimer's are still not definitive. The four genes they currently test for only lead to a small number of the cases of Alzheimer's. Scientists are working to identify other genetic markers, but they're still mystified. 

In the case of someone like Meredith Grey -- whose parent had an early onset case, developing Alzheimer's as young as 40 -- the genetic tests can help them get their affairs in order.

Thirty isn't so young when you could start losing your faculties at 40.

The Alzheimer's Association estimates these cases only account for 1 percent of all Alzheimer's cases, but a positive test is almost a guarantee of your fate. Similarly, there is one test for cases where your parent had a late onset case that can help you determine your future -- having two copies of the gene almost guarantees you're going to descend into Alzheimer's.

Now the drawback: even on a hospital show where miracles happen every Thursday night, there's nothing they can do if Meredith Grey has the gene. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's, although there are treatment options to slow the disease.

It gives you the chance at 30 or so to start getting your affairs in order -- dealing with legal and financial implications -- but now you've got your fate weighing on your mind.

Would you do it?


Image via ABC


aging, medical tests

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lovin... loving_my_hero

My grandfather has Parkinson's Disease, which is very similiar in many ways, but it takes a more progressive toll on the body in addition the the toll it takes on a persons mind. If there was a test I could take to determine whether or not I have this gene, I would take it. We are going through so much with him right now, and I don't want my kids to have to go through the heartache of having to get my affairs in order one day.

nonmember avatar Allboys

Not for Alzheimer's because of it's inaccuracy and the fact that it does not run in my family. I would however take a genetic test for some other things that run in my family.

Amyin... AmyinMotown

I would like my husband to take it. His father has it, and it's been such a  huge issue for the family after his mom passsed away suddenly almost two years ago. I'd like him to get his affairs in order, get his wishes about being placed in a care facility and at what point in his decline he would like to have it done, etc. Honeslty, he has a terrible memory already, and a tendency to have conversations jump around, and he misspeaks a lot (using the wrong word in conversation). I'd like to know if that is worthy of concern, or just his unqiue mind asserting itself!

Carey... Carey2006

No......why borrow your sorrow from tomorrow....if it's not Alzheimer's it could be something else....no matter what lies ahead we all should be prepared for 'the end'.

Maryann Lorenzi

i took this class about Alzheimer and i agree you arent too young to prepare yourself for life's challenges especially for your elder ages

nonmember avatar Gail McBeth

Having been through it with both of my grandparents, I really believe the ONLY thing doctors definitely know about Alzheimer's is the fact that they really don't know anything at all. There are speculations, but they don't even seem clear on what it is. I just read this really helpful book which gave me hope and sort of put some of it in lamen's terms because it was written by a real person (a caregiver) who had his own questions. Oddly enough, it's actually a really poignant, hopeful memoir about Alzheimer's. If you're interested...The Living End: A Memoir of Forgetting and Forgiving by Robert Leleux.

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