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Cholesterol’s Link to Alzheimer’s

For decades physicians have recognized the role of cholesterol on vascular health as some forms of cholesterol are beneficial for heart health while other types of cholesterol are bad, in fact, very bad.

New research on how cholesterol affects psychological and neurological health presents a cloudy and complicated picture of a topic that needs attention given the success of cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as statins.

The relationship between cholesterol and mental and neurological health is discussed in the March 2007 issue of Harvard Men’s Health Watch.

There are two major forms of dementia: vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Vascular dementia results when blood vessel damage deprives the brain of oxygen. Brain cells die as a result, and mental function suffers. Some studies link high cholesterol levels to an increased risk of cognitive impairment, but others report the opposite.

More research is needed to sort this out, but even now, investigations of HDL (good) cholesterol and mental function have consistently reported that high HDL levels appear to help preserve mental function in older people.

The connection between Alzheimer’s disease and cholesterol is even more complex. Scientists have learned much of the damage of Alzheimer’s comes from deposits of a sticky protein, called beta-amyloid, in vital areas of the brain.

In some studies, high cholesterol levels appear to accelerate the formation of beta-amyloid plaques. People with the genetic trait that increases the level of a particular cholesterol transport protein have a greatly increased risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s.

The urgent question is whether cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as statins, can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. In the most recent studies, people who took statins did not appear to be at lower risk for the disease.

Additional research is under way. Right now, it is too early for firm conclusions on the relationships among cholesterol, cognitive function, and statin therapy.

Source: Harvard Men’s Health Watch

Cholesterol’s Link to Alzheimer’s

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Cholesterol’s Link to Alzheimer’s. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2007/02/28/cholesterols-link-to-alzheimers/653.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.