August 4, 2009

High cholesterol linked to dementia risk

A 40-year study suggests having high cholesterol in midlife increases the risk for Alzheimer's disease in later years, U.S. and Finnish researchers say.

Researchers at Kaiser Permanente and the University of Kuopio in Finland say the study of of 9,844 men and women suggests high cholesterol in midlife -- 240 or higher milligrams per deciliter of blood -- increases the risk for Alzheimer's disease later in life by 66 percent. Borderline cholesterol levels of 200-239 mg/dL raised the risk for vascular dementia by 52 percent, the study said.

The researchers tracked the study participants for 40 years.

Our study shows that even moderately high cholesterol levels in your 40s puts people at greater risk for Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia decades later, senior author Rachel Whitmer, a Kaiser Permanente epidemiologist, said in a statement.

Considering that nearly 100 million Americans have either high or borderline cholesterol levels, this is a disturbing finding.

The findings were published in the journal Dementia & Geriatric Cognitive Disorders.