Bad Cholesterol may Increase Risk of Alzheimer's Disease

First Posted: Dec 30, 2013 06:44 PM EST

A recent study shows that balanced cholesterol levels play an important role when it comes to cardiovascular health. The same findings also suggest that those with balanced cholesterol levels have lower levels of the amyloid plaque deposition in the brain that may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease.  

"Our study shows that both higher levels of HDL-good-and lower levels of LDLD-bad-cholesterol in the bloodstream are associated with lower levels of amyloid plaque deposits in the brain," lead researcher Bruce Reed, an associate director of the UC Davis Alzheimer's Disease Center Said, via a press 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."

According to health experts, they estimate that a level of 60 mg/dl or higher in HDL cholesterol is a good range to be in, while a range of 70 mg/dl or lower is recommended for someone with at an increased risk for heart disease.

The study looked at 74 males and female participants who were all 70 years or older. The study also included three people with middle dementia while 33 people were cognitively normal and 38 had mild cognitive impairment.

An analysis of PET scans showed that people with higher fasting levels of LDL and lower levels of HDL were both associated with a greater brain amyloid.

Researchers note that the findings support cholesterol treatments in those who are developing memory loss and may be at an increased risk for cardiovascular health.

"It also suggests a method of lowering amyloid levels in people who are middle aged, when such build-up is just starting," Reed concluded, via the 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."

More information regarding the study can be found via the journal JAMA Neurology

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