September 19, 2011

Study Links High Cholesterol And Alzheimer’s

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- High cholesterol may be clogging more than just the heart.  In a recent study, people with high cholesterol may have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

"We found that high, cholesterol levels were significantly related to brain plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease," study author, Kensuke Sasaki, MD, Ph.D, of Kyushu University of Fukoka, Japan, was quoted as saying.

The cholesterol levels were tested for 2,587 people between the ages of 40 to 79 years old who had no signs of Alzheimer's disease.  Then they looked for the two trademarks of Alzheimer's, plaques and tangles, in the brains of 147 autopsied people who died after a long observation period of 10 to 15 years.  Out of the 147 autopsied people, 50 had been diagnosed with dementia before death.

Plaques are an accumulation of a form of protein, amyloid, which occurs between nerve cells. Tangles are an accumulation of a different protein, called tau, which occurs inside nerve cells.

People with high cholesterol levels, higher than 5.8 mmol/L, had significantly more brain plaques when compared to those with normal or lower cholesterol levels.  A total of 86 percent of people had brain plaques, compared to only 62 percent of people with low cholesterol levels.

The study found no link between high cholesterol and the tangles that develop in the brain with Alzheimer's disease.

In addition to high cholesterol increasing the risk of Alzheimer's disease, Dr. Sasaki previously found that insulin resistance, a sign of diabetes, may be another risk factor for brain plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease.

 "Our study clearly makes the point that high cholesterol may contribute directly or indirectly to plaques in the brain, "Dr. Sasaki was quoted saying, "but failed treatment trials of cholesterol-lowering drugs in Alzheimer's disease means there is no simple link between lowering cholesterol and preventing Alzheimer's."

SOURCE: Neurology, published online September 12, 2011