Diabetes is a condition that affects how we process glucose, which is the body's main fuel source. Twenty-nine million people suffer from diabetes in the U.S. But because of the mild symptoms associated with it, 8 million of them are undiagnosed, according to the American Diabetes Association. Further, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 86 million Americans to be in the pre-diabetes stage. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of developing diabetes and should watch out for symptoms like excessive thirst, blurry vision, fatigue, irritability, and poor wound healing.
The skin gets its color from the natural skin pigment melanin. Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks its own melanin-producing cells, the melanocytes. In a study conducted to identify genetic factors associated with vitiligo, the risk among related individuals was 18 times higher than in the general population - this suggests a genetic influence. There is an association between vitiligo and melanoma (skin cancer) - with the involvement of the immune system. People with certain genetic types have a higher risk of developing vitiligo and may exhibit symptoms that include white patches on the skin.
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disorder that results in the death of brain cells. It constitutes about 60 to 80% of dementia (loss of memory) incidences. One of the early signs of Alzheimer's is the inability to recollect events of the recent past. There's no cure for this condition; the treatments available aim to slow down the progression. Approximately 200,000 Americans younger than 65 years of age have early-onset Alzheimer's disease. People with certain genetic types have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and may exhibit symptoms like difficulty in remembering, confusion, disorientation, and speech difficulties.
Heart disease is an broad term that covers any condition that affects the heart. Some common heart diseases include coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, myocardial infarction, and heart attack. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, 1 in 4 deaths in the U.S. occurs due to heart disease. High blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and smoking are risk factors for heart disease. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk for heart disease and should watch out for signs that include shortness of breath, dizziness, fatigue, sweating, palpitations, and an ache in the chest.
Ulcerative colitis is (UC) an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that is characterized by the inflammation (swelling) of the rectal and the intestinal mucosa. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are between 37 to 246 new incidences per 100,000 persons every year in the U.S. Studies suggest that about 10 to 25 percent of people with UC have a parent or sibling with IBD. People with certain genetic types have a higher risk of developing ulcerative colitis and may exhibit symptoms like abdominal pain, bloody stools, weight loss, rectal pain, joint pain, skin problem, and increased abdominal sounds.
Anxiety disorders are characterized by feelings of fear and anxiety. While occasional anxiety is normal and even beneficial in certain situations, overwhelming and persistent feelings of fear and anxiety are not good for both mental and physical health. Common causes of anxiety disorders include environmental stress, drug withdrawal, medical conditions like hypothyroidism and Alzheimer's, and genetics. 26% of the risk attributed to anxiety is due to genetics. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of developing anxiety disorders and may exhibit symptoms like excessive worry, sweating, trouble sleeping, increased alertness, nausea, poor concentration, or trembling.
Hypertension is a medical term for a condition that is characterized by persistently elevated blood pressure. 90% of hypertension incidences are due to poor lifestyle choices and genetic factors, while 5 to 10% may be due to an underlying medical condition. The normal blood pressure for adults at rest is between 100–140 millimeters mercury (mmHg) systolic and 60–90 mmHg diastolic. Blood pressure at or over 140/90 mmHg is considered high (hypertensive). People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of having hypertension and should watch out for symptoms like dizzy spells or headaches during spikes.
Stroke is a medical condition in which blood flow to specific brain regions is cut off. This immediately results in the death of the brain cells. Women have a higher lifetime risk of having a stroke than men. Obesity, drinking, and drug usage are some of the lifestyle risk factors for stroke. Some medical conditions, like hypertension, diabetes, sleep disorders, and heart disease, also contribute to the risk. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk for stroke and should watch out for signs that include face drooping, weakness in the arm, and speech difficulty.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition where there is blurring of sight or loss of central vision. AMD affects the part of the eye called the 'macula.' "Age-related" implies that it mostly occurs with advanced age. Some risk factors of AMD, other than age, are family history, obesity, and smoking. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of developing AMD and may exhibit the symptoms like sudden or a gradual change in the quality of vision, distorted appearance of straight lines, difficulty or loss of vision in dim light, and progressive and drastic loss in central vision.
Obesity refers to excess body mass, which can pose health risks. Obesity is generally measured using the body mass index (BMI), which is obtained by dividing the weight of a person by the square of the person's height. A person with a BMI over 30 kg/m2 is considered obese, while a BMI between 25 and 30 kg/m2 is defined as being overweight. Obesity is a combination of inherited and lifestyle factors. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of becoming obese and should watch out for symptoms like breathlessness, fatigue, joint and back pain, and poor self-confidence.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become fragile and prone to fractures. The internal structure of the bone has small holes. In osteoporosis, the size of these holes increases, making the bones weaker. Over 200 million people worldwide have osteoporosis. Some risk factors include female sex, older age, lower levels of sex hormones, and overactive parathyroid glands. Lifestyle choices like being sedentary, alcohol consumption, and tobacco use also contributes to the risk. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis with symptoms that include back pain, stooped posture, or loss of height over time.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a gradual loss of kidney function, which can cause wastes to build up in your body. Most often, CKD goes undiagnosed until it progresses to advanced stages. According to The National Kidney Foundation, 10% of the global population suffers from CKD. Medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease are risk factors for CKD. Genetics contributes between 30-75% of CKD risk. People with certain genetic types have a higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease and may exhibit symptoms like fatigue, loss of appetite, malaise, weight loss, itching, insufficient urine production.
Parkinson's is a brain disorder that affects the central nervous system (the brain and the spinal cord). This condition is found in 1% of adults over the age of 60 years. In Parkinson's, the part of the brain that produces Dopamine - an important hormone that regulates body movements - is affected. Thus, the first signs of this condition are problems with movement. More men are affected by Parkinson's than women. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of developing Parkinson's and may exhibit symptoms including tremor in one hand, stiffness, loss of balance, sleepiness during the day, incontinence.
Migraine is a strong headache that is often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. The global prevalence of migraine is 14.7%, which is 1 in 7 people. Migraine affects people of all age groups. Common migraines triggers include stress, sleep changes, hormonal changes, medications, weather changes, alcohol, caffeine, and certain foods. There is no cure for migraines, but several drugs can treat or even prevent headaches. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of developing a migraine and may exhibit symptoms including 'drilling' headache, nausea, sensitivity to sound and light.
Fracture is a medical condition in which there is a break or cracks in the bone. Fractures mostly occur because of accidents or sports injuries. People with osteoporosis (weak and brittle bones) are more prone to fractures. Every year, over 700,000 people with osteoporosis fracture their vertebrae and suffer from chronic pain. Some risk factors for fracture include old age, physical inactivity, alcohol, and smoking. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of fracture. A fracture can be identified with symptoms like pain, swelling, visible deformity, inability to move the injured area, and a snap or a grinding sound.
Bone mineral density (BMD) is the amount of bone mineral in bone tissue. The higher the bone mineral strength, the stronger the bones are. BMD is the best way to measure your bone health and is an important test for detecting osteoporosis (brittle and weak bones). Some causes of low BMD include vitamin D and/or calcium deficiency, certain steroids, being underweight, heavy smoking and drinking, hormonal imbalances, and old age. BMD is also highly heritable, according to many research studies. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of low bone mineral density and thereby at risk of osteoporosis or fractures.
Asthma is a common condition where the airway to the lungs swells and narrows down, making it difficult to breathe. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25 million people across the U.S. have asthma. Some triggers of asthma are airborne allergies, common cold, certain medications, and strong emotions. Asthma can't be cured, but its symptoms can be controlled. Genetics contributes to around 70% of a person's risk of developing asthma. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of developing asthma and may exhibit the following symptoms: wheezing, chest pain, difficulty in breathing, and coughing.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, commonly referred to as COPD, is a group of lung diseases. It is primarily characterized by breathlessness. Sometimes, COPD is mistaken for asthma due to similar symptoms. The main cause of COPD is tobacco smoking. Other causes include exposure to fumes and chemical toxins. Up to 5% of the COPD cases are due to a deficiency in an enzyme caused by variations in some genes. People with certain genetic types have a higher risk of developing COPD and may exhibit the following symptoms shortness of breath, wheezing, frequent respiratory infections, inability to exercise, and chest tightness.
Osteoarthritis is a disorder that is characterized by chronic (long-lasting) joint pain. The ends of bones are covered by a protective layer called cartilage. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage gets damaged, which leads to joint pain. When cartilage breaks down, the bones start rubbing against each other, causing friction, stiffness, and pain. Some risk factors of osteoarthritis include older age, female sex, obesity, joint injury, bone deformities, and genetics. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis and may exhibit symptoms like joint stiffness, swelling, crackling, bony outgrowth, or bump on the finger.
Usually, drinking too much alcohol can cause a build-up of fat in the liver, leading to liver damage. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is characterized by the deposition of fat in the liver due to causes other than alcohol. The exact causes of NAFLD have still not been identified. Some health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol levels, and obesity are major risk factors for NAFLD. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of developing NAFLD and should watch out for symptoms like enlarged blood vessels, abdominal swelling, enlarged liver, pain in the upper right abdomen, and unexplained weight loss.
Depression is a serious yet common mood disorder that affects the way an individual thinks, feels, and handles daily activities. According to WHO, nearly 4.4% of the global population suffers from depression. The causes of depression include certain medical conditions like insomnia and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), drug usage, trauma, and family history. In most cases, however, the exact cause cannot be determined. Women are more often diagnosed with depression than men. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of developing depression and may exhibit symptoms including changes in sleep, energy level, activity, mood, self-esteem, and concentration.
Autism includes a range of disorders associated with speech, social skills, and non-verbal communication. Autism is a "spectrum" disorder because there's a wide range in the type and severity of the symptoms people experience. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the U.S., 1 in 68 children surveyed was found to have autism spectrum disorder. The heritability of autism ranges from 40 to 80%. People of certain genetic types are associated with an increased risk of developing autism and may exhibit symptoms like learning disability, inability to focus, unaware of others' emotions, sensitivity to sound.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects the brain as well as the spinal cord. MS is an 'autoimmune' disease - the cells of the immune system attack parts of the body; in this case, the protective layer around the nerve fiber. MS is more prevalent in people with vitamin D and B12 deficiencies. Changes in the HLA-DRB1 gene (involved in immune responses) are the strongest genetic risk factors for developing MS. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of developing MS and may exhibit symptoms like cramping, inability to move, involuntary movements, poor balance, weakness.
Epilepsy constitutes a group of disorders that are characterized by seizures. These seizures are associated with vigorous shaking, lasting from a short unnoticeable period to longer periods. There are two main types of seizures; generalized seizures affect the entire brain, and focal seizures affect just one part of the brain. They occur due to the random electric activity in the brain. Epilepsy often runs in families and affects men and women equally. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of developing epilepsy and may exhibit symptoms like uncontrollable jerking movements, memory problems, anxiety, pins-and-needles feelings, and depression.
Glaucoma is a condition in which the optic nerve at the back of the eye is affected. It is usually a result of the increase in the pressure of the fluid in your eyes. This fluid usually flows through a mesh-like channel- but sometimes, this channel gets blocked, and the fluid gets built-up. The cause of the blockage is unknown but can be inherited. Approximately 3 million Americans suffer from glaucoma. People with certain genetic types have a higher risk of developing glaucoma and may exhibit symptoms like blurred vision, rainbow-like circles around bright lights, severe pain in the eye, nausea, or vomiting.
Alopecia areata is a condition that causes hair to fall in patches. It is also known as spot baldness. It occurs because the body's immune system starts attacking the hair follicles (part of the skin where the hair grows). Sometimes, this condition can result in total hair loss and also prevent it from growing back. Females are more likely to develop alopecia areata than males, but it's not clear why. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of developing alopecia areata and may exhibit symptoms like hair loss, itching, anxiety, and broken nails.
Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition in which the heart rate is increased, and often accompanied by an irregular heartbeat. AF can increase the risk of heart diseases like stroke and heart failure, as well as other conditions. The prevalence of this condition ranges from 0.2 to 0.4 per 1000 people. Atrial fibrillation is more common in men than women and in adults over 65 years of age. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of developing this condition and may exhibit symptoms like dizziness, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, palpitations, and weakness.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the body does not produce enough thyroid hormones. The thyroid is an important regulator for many functions in the body - like the working of heart and digestive system. Symptoms are barely noticeable in the early stages; however, it can lead to severe problems like obesity, infertility, and joint pain. In the U.S., the prevalence of hypothyroidism is 4.6%, with women being more commonly affected. People of certain genetic types are at a higher risk of developing hypothyroidism and may exhibit symptoms like weight gain, puffy face, dry skin, fatigue, lethargy, or hair loss.
Gout is a common yet severe form of joint pain that is caused by the the build-up of uric acid (a waste product formed in the body). It usually affects the joints in the big toe. The incidence of gout is 2 to 6 times higher among men than among women. Common risk factors of gout include obesity, family history, recent surgery, and certain medications. People with certain genetic types are at a high risk of developing gout and may exhibit symptoms like pain in joints like ankle, knee, toe, or foot, swelling, stiffness, redness, and physical deformity.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that occurs during late adolescence and affects the individual's ability to interpret reality. It impacts speech, thinking, emotions, and other areas of life. The global prevalence of schizophrenia is 1%, and approximately 3.2 million Americans are known to have this disease. Genetics is a huge risk factor for schizophrenia; in fact, if there is no history of schizophrenia in a family, the chances of developing it are less than 1%. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk for schizophrenia and may exhibit symptoms like aggression, poor social behavior, hostility, and compulsive behavior.
Gallstones are pieces of solid formations in the gallbladder - a small pear-shaped organ under your liver. The gallbladder stores and releases bile, a fluid that helps in the digestion process. Gallstones are usually formed when there is too much cholesterol in the bile fluid. People with gallstones are at an increased risk for gallbladder cancer. Studies suggest that genetic factors are responsible for at least 30% of gallstone disease. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of developing gallstones than others and may exhibit symptoms like abdominal cramping or discomfort, nausea, or vomiting.
Hypertriglyceridemia is a medical condition in which there are elevated levels of triglycerides- a type of fat in your body. It is often associated with other health conditions like obesity and diabetes. Hypertriglyceridemia increases the risk of coronary artery disease. It can be caused by genetic factors that interfere with the production and processing of triglycerides. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of developing hypertriglyceridemia and may exhibit symptoms like xanthomas - a yellow color cholesterol-rich deposit, pancreatitis - inflammation of the pancreas, lipemia retinalis - issue in the retina of the eye.
Anorexia nervosa is a psychological eating disorder. It can be potentially life-threatening. Anorexia constitutes 3% of all eating disorders. People suffering from this order have unusually low body weight and are often malnourished. They tend to resort to extreme measures to prevent weight gain and maintain their body shape. The onset of this condition is during early adolescence or young adulthood. Anorexia often runs in families, suggesting that it has a genetic component. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of developing anorexia and may exhibit symptoms like dizziness, fatigue, low blood pressure, anxiety, extreme weight loss.
Amyloidosis is a rare condition in which there is an abnormal build-up of a protein called amyloid. Amyloid deposits can lead to damage to organs like the heart, kidneys, and liver. This is called systemic amyloidosis. Sometimes, the amyloid deposits can occur throughout the body. The TTR gene that produces the protein called transthyretin has been associated with amyloidosis. People with certain types of the TTR gene are at a higher risk of developing amyloidosis and may exhibit symptoms like shortness of breath, weight loss, fatigue, bruising, swelling of the tongue, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tingling feeling.
Scoliosis is a medical condition in which the spinal cord of an individual is curved sideways, resulting in an "S" or a "C" shape. This condition is prevalent among 2 to 3% of the general population. Birth defects and injuries to the spine are common causes of scoliosis. Nearly a third of patients with adolescent idiopathic (cause unknown) scoliosis have a family history of the condition, hence a genetic link. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of developing scoliosis and may exhibit symptoms like back pain, muscle spasms, muscle deformity, and an uneven waist.
Hemophilia is a condition in which there is excessive bleeding because of poor blood clotting. This condition affects more men than women. Blood contains many proteins called clotting factors that can help to stop bleeding. Low levels of factor 8 and 9, leads to hemophilia. The severity of hemophilia that a person has is determined by the blood clotting factors. The worldwide prevalence of hemophilia is around 400,000 people. People with certain genetic types have a higher risk of developing hemophilia and may exhibit symptoms like pain in the joints, internal bleeding, swollen joints, and prolonged menstrual periods.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited condition that affects the lungs and the digestive system. It affects the glands that produce mucus. Instead of the normally thin, slippery fluid, in CF, the secretions are thick and sticky. It occurs as a result of changes in a gene called CFTR or cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator. This gene controls the movement of water and salt in the body's cells. People with certain types of the CFTR gene are at a higher risk of developing this condition and may exhibit symptoms like abdominal pain, chronic cough, diarrhea, shortness of breath, delayed puberty, and fatigue.
Crohn's disease is a chronic disease characterized by inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract. The cause of Crohn's has not clearly been understood yet, but factors like your immune system, environment, and genes influence the development of this condition. In fact, around 20% of people with Crohn's have a parent or sibling with the disease. Some other risk factors include smoking, certain drugs, age, and ethnicity. People with certain genetic types have a high risk of developing Crohn's disease and may exhibit symptoms like abdominal pain, abdominal bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, cramping, loss of appetite, and blood in the stool.
Bloom syndrome is a genetic condition characterized by short height, sensitivity to the sun, and skin rash. Only about 265 people are believed to have this rare condition. Changes in the BLM gene causes this condition. BLM gene is responsible for producing an enzyme that is required for untwisting the DNA. People with certain types of the BLM gene have a higher risk of developing Bloom syndrome and may exhibit symptoms like short stature, enlarged blood vessels (telangiectasia), and rash on the face (cafe au lait spots) that develop during early childhood on exposure to the sun.
Glycogen is the main source of energy for our bodies. It is stored in the liver, and whenever our body needs more energy, certain enzymes convert the glycogen to glucose. Glycogen storage disease is a condition characterized by a deficiency in the enzymes that breakdown glycogen. This results in glycogen build-up that can cause problems in the liver, muscles, or other parts of the body. People with certain genetic types have a higher risk of developing glycogen storage disease and may exhibit symptoms like: bruising easily, low blood sugar, abdominal bloating, slow growth and weak muscles, and muscle cramping.
Beta-thalassemia is a blood disorder in which there is a reduction in the production of hemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells (RBCs) that carries oxygen. Low levels of oxygen lead to many complications like increased risk for blood clots. There are two forms of beta-thalassemia: thalassemia minor and thalassemia major. This condition is highly prevalent in the Mediterranean countries, with an annual incidence of 1 in 100,000. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of developing beta-thalassemia, and affected infants may exhibit symptoms like pale skin, feeding problem, recurrent fever, liver, and abdominal enlargement.
Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is characterized by the inability of the body to remove low-density lipoprotein (the 'bad cholesterol'). As a result, it results in the formation of fatty deposits (plaques) in your heart, increasing the risk of heart disease. This is an inherited condition (passed down through genetics) and can cause heart attacks at an early age. People with certain genetic types have a higher risk of developing this condition and may exhibit symptoms like fatty skin deposits called xanthomas on arms and legs, deposits of cholesterol in the eyelids, and signs of coronary artery disease like chest pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder (the cells of the immune system start attacking the body) that affects the joints. Here the immune system affects the synovium, which is the tissue present in spaces between joints. When this happens, it leads to gradual damage to bones and cartilages. This chronic condition is found to affect 1% of the population. People with certain genetic types are at a higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis may experience signs like stiffness, tenderness or swelling in the joints, fatigue, feeling of pins and needles, and lumps of redness on the skin.
Anemia is a condition in which there are not enough healthy red blood cells (RBCs) to carry oxygen to different tissues in your body. Most cases of anemia are treated with dietary fixes and iron and vitamin B12 supplements. According to WHO, the highest prevalence of anemia is among pre-school children, and the lowest is among men. Some forms of anemia are passed down through genes and may affect babies at birth. People with certain genetic types at a higher risk of developing anemia and may exhibit symptoms like fatigue, malaise, palpitations, brittle nails, and shortness of breath.