Health Tip – Apr. 4 – Is Bad Cholesterol Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease?
Dee Dee – Health Tip
Here’s another potential reason to watch your cholesterol levels. New research from the University of California, Davis, suggests that the cholesterol levels often associated with cardiovascular disease may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease as well.
For the study, investigators measured the blood lipid levels of 74 seniors with normal to mildly impaired cognitive function. They also measured deposits of beta amyloid protein in their subjects’ brains with PET (positron emission tomography) scans and found that participants with higher levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lower levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol had higher levels of Alzheimer’s-related amyloid in the brain.
High levels of LDL cholesterol have been considered a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease while high levels of HDL cholesterol are believed to protect the heart. Some earlier studies have suggested that drugs that lower LDL might protect against Alzheimer’s but results have been inconsistent. In the new study, no links were seen between amyloid levels and the use of cholesterol-lowering medication.
The researchers wrote that the study doesn’t prove that cholesterol levels in the blood directly affect deposition of amyloid proteins. They suggested that high LDL levels could be predictive of vascular damage from small strokes that might play a part in amyloid deposition. In other words, high LDL could be an effect, rather than a cause, of another process that raises stroke risk. They concluded that their findings should be replicated in other studies to confirm the association between Alzheimer’s and cholesterol.