Your Cholesterol Levels May Be Tied To Alzheimer’s Disease

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You probably already know how important keeping your cholesterol in check is for your heart, but a new study suggests it may also be important for your brain.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol Model
Source: Wikimedia Commons

According to a study from the University of California, Davis, has found the low levels of so-called “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and high levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL) are associated with lower levels of amyloid plaques built up in the brain. The plaque is an indicator of Alzheimer’s disease.

The research even says your cholesterol levels could be as important for brain health as controlling blood pressure.

“Our study shows that both higher levels of HDL and lower levels of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream are associated with lower levels of amyloid plaque deposits in the brain,” the study’s lead author, Bruce Reed, associate director of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center, said in the news release.

“Unhealthy patterns of cholesterol could be directly causing the higher levels of amyloid known to contribute to Alzheimer’s, in the same way that such patterns promote heart disease,” Reed said.

The study, published in the Dec. 30 online edition of the journal JAMA Neurology, evaluated 74 men and women recruited from California stroke clinics, support groups, senior-citizen facilities, and the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center. All participants were over the age of 70. Three people in the group had mild dementia, while 33 had no brain function problems, and 38 had mild impairment of the brain.

The researchers used brain scans to measure the participants’ amyloid levels and found that higher levels of LDL cholesterol and lower levels of HDL cholesterol were both associated with more accumulation of amyloid plaque build up.

“This study provides a reason to certainly continue cholesterol treatment in people who are developing memory loss regardless of concerns regarding their cardiovascular health,” said Reed, who also is a professor in the UC Davis department of neurology.

“It also suggests a method of lowering amyloid levels in people who are middle-aged, when such build-up is just starting,” Reed said in the news release.

“If modifying cholesterol levels in the brain early in life turns out to reduce amyloid deposits late in life, we could potentially make a significant difference in reducing the prevalence of Alzheimer’s, a goal of an enormous amount of research and drug-development effort,” he said.

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