Advertisement
Icon WebMD Expert Blogs

WebMD's editorial staff on the latest news from the world of health.

Important:

The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, review, ratings, or blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have... Expand

The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, reviews, ratings, or blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. User-generated content areas are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD User-generated content as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

Hide

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pat Summitt’s Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease

When Pat Summitt, the legendary coach of the University of Tennessee women’s basketball team, announced that she has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at age 59, many were stunned. Even more surprising was that she said she would keep working, hopefully for at least another 3 years.

Typically, Alzheimer’s is seen in people over the age of 65, and usually much later than that. When the disease strikes before age 65, it’s called early-onset Alzheimer’s. Thankfully, it’s not common. Only about 5% of people with Alzheimer’s are under 65.

People with early-onset Alzheimer’s can continue to work as long as they, their employer, and their doctor feel they are able. However, the condition is progressive and eventually the dementia will be too severe to allow someone to meet the needs of their job.

How long does that take? It’s too variable to tell. Will Summitt be able to work for three more years? Even Summitt’s doctors don’t know.

Time will tell. But someone with early Alzheimer’s can live an active life, as Summitt is doing.

However, she is reportedly already facing some challenges at work, including some difficulty with making quick on-the-court decisions. Her job is obviously mentally challenging, which will factor into how long she can continue to meet the high demands.

What causes early-onset Alzheimer’s? As with most cases of Alzheimer’s, there is no known cause. Some people with early Alzheimer’s have a gene that directly causes the condition. This is quite rare, though.

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is difficult for both the individual and loved ones. The doctors and staff at WebMD wish Summitt and her family all the best as they face the challenges of the coming years.

Posted by: Michael Smith, MD at 2:34 pm

Comments

Leave a comment

Subscribe & Stay Informed

WebMD Daily

Get your daily dose of healthy living, diet, exercise and health news from WebMD!

Archives

WebMD Health News