TH23 wrote:I just got on here for this subject and I'm amazed there's only 5 comments! Is this a big deal or not?
I'm 48 4/4 and mthfr 4/4. What's the good news about being apoe4/4?
Welcome, TH23, from another ApoE 4/4 who is 20 years older than you and still going strong! To try to give a balanced view, the risk of COVID is probably a big deal to almost everyone on this site, especially when the news suggests that we might be at a bigger risk of dying from it! But with the virus so new and the testing so limited in some areas (including the UK in March and April when this data was collected), there a lots of what researchers call "limitations on the results of this study"--factors that may explain the results differently. Here are just some:
1. In the UK, it appears that testing was only done on people who arrived at a hospital. Recent data from "prevalence testing", which is like sampling a given population regardless of symptoms, suggests that about 40% of people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic.
2. Of the ApoE4/4 people tested, not quite one percent tested positive. That means that in a group of 300 people with ApoE4/4, 298 would not have the disease. That's a lot of healthy ApoE 4/4s.
3. Of the 59 symptomatic people with ApoE 4/4 who had (probably severe) disease, 13 died. However, this was in the months when doctors were learning quickly to monitor blood oxygen levels early, use medications for people with heart disease to reduce risk of strokes or blood clots, and use remdesivir for treatment. We don't know if these people would have had different outcomes today.
4. The people in this study had been followed for years, but it appears that any diagnosis of dementia had not been updated since 2017. I know from my own relatives that someone who looked healthy at age 80 could be very frail at age 83.
Of course, we don't know why some younger, healthy people have severe disease, so the advice for all of us remains true: wear a mask in enclosed spaces, use social distancing to reduce your risk and wash your hands frequently.
As for the good news about being ApoE4/4, I'll admit that when I first found out it didn't seem like good news. But it led me to make better choices for prioritizing sleep, fewer carbs, more exercise, meaningful social and cognitive challenges and recognizing that each day is important. In my own extended family with a history of cognitive impairment, there is no breast cancer, no melanoma (in spite of ghostly pale skin), and few other serious diseases. Most women live into their 80's, a good 40 years past when my grandparents lived in a time of poor control of heart risk and use of carcinogens in smoked foods. And going way back, it appears that ApoE 4/4 protected against deadly disease like malaria and parasite diseases in hot climates and against starvation in periods of fasting in cold climates. There's even some studies that suggest we have higher than average verbal intelligence and executive functions (planning, organizing, problem-solving), which will help us navigate a path through a gene that only signals a risk--it doesn't control the steering.
We're glad you found this community and hope you will tell us more about how you're coping with the dual challenges of ApoE 4/4 and COVID-19. Hugs from a genetic "relative"!