Alzheimer’s disease: cholesterol increases the risks

Less LDL cholesterol and more HDL are not only good for the vessels, but also for the brain. A study shows links between cholesterolemia and the presence of amyloid plaques characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.

Heart health and brain health could both be influenced by cholesterol levels. For several years, studies have reported an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the event of hypercholesterolemia. But this is the first time that a study has been devoted specifically to the links between cholesterol levels and the deposition of amyloid plaques in living subjects.

This study, published in JAMA Neurology, was conducted among 74 women and men aged 70 and over: 3 had mild dementia, 22 had normal cognitive functions and 38 had mild cognitive dysfunction.

More cholesterol, more amyloid plaques in the brain

The results show that both high LDL and low HDL fasting levels are associated with a higher presence of amyloid plaques in the brain. While some recent recommendations, in particular from the American College of Cardiology, consider abandoning target values ​​for LDL cholesterol, this study provides new arguments on the interest that cholesterolemia control could have in the development of this disease with causes still largely misunderstood.

The authors also consider that controlling cholesterol levels at an early age could make a difference later in life, by reducing the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease.


Reed B: Associations Between Serum Cholesterol Levels and Cerebral Amyloidosis. JAMA Neurology. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2013.5390


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