Good cholesterol lowers Alzheimer's risk
A new study has found that high levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) - also known as good cholesterol - appear to be associated with a reduced risk for Alzheimer's disease in older adults.
Researchers studied 1,130 older American adults to examine the association of blood lipid (fat) levels with Alzheimer's disease. The study included a random sampling of Medicare recipients 65 years or older residing in northern Manhattan, with no history of dementia or cognitive impairment. The researchers defined higher levels of HDL cholesterol as 55 milligrams per deciliter or more. To determine this association, data were collected from medical, neurological and neuropsychological evaluations. Additionally, the researchers assigned a diagnosis of probable Alzheimer's disease when onset of dementia could not be explained by any other disorder. A diagnosis of possible Alzheimer's disease was made when the most likely cause of dementia was Alzheimer's disease but there were other disorders that could contribute to the dementia, such as stroke or Parkinson disease.
During the course of follow-up, there were 101 new cases of Alzheimer's disease, of which 89 were probable and 12 were possible. The average age of individuals at the onset of probable and possible Alzheimer's disease was 83 years. Compared with people who were not diagnosed with incident Alzheimer's disease, those who did develop dementia were more often Hispanic and had a higher prevalence of diabetes at the start of the study. Higher plasma levels of HDL cholesterol were associated with a lower risk of both probable and possible Alzheimer's disease, even after adjusting for vascular risk factors and lipid-lowering treatments.
Although higher blood total cholesterol, non-HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels also were associated with lower risks of probable and possible Alzheimer's disease, these associations became non-significant after adjusting for vascular risk factors and lipid-lowering treatments. The researchers caution that as the study was conducted in an urban multiethnic elderly community with a high prevalence of risk factors for death and dementia, these results may not be generalizeable to younger individuals or individuals with a lower disease burden.
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