High Blood Cholesterol Associated With Alzheimer’s Disease

High blood cholesterol is not only linked to heart disease but it’s also increases the risk of Alzheimer disease, a new study suggests.

According to a study published by Japanese researchers and published in the medical journal Neurology, people with high cholesterol levels had more brain plaques, which are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

“We’ve found that those with high cholesterol levels had a significantly brain plagues associated with Alzheimer’s disease,” says study author Kensuke Sasaki, MD, PhD, an associate professor at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan.

For the study, researchers examined 147 people who died after a prolonged observation period of AD (10 to 15 years), of those, 50 people, or 34% had been diagnosed with the disease before death.

The autopsies looked for plaques and tangles in the brain, both known to be the main signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Plaques are an accumulation of a form of protein, called amyloid, which occurs between nerve cells. Tangles are an accumulation of a different proteins, called tau, which occurs in nerve cells.

The results showed that people with high cholesterol levels, defined by a reading of more than 105 mg/dl, had significantly more brain plaques when compared to those with normal or low cholesterol levels. A total of 86% of people with high cholesterol levels have brain plaques, compared with only 62 percent of people with low cholesterol levels.

However, the study found no link between high cholesterol and the tangles that develop in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition to high cholesterol, Sasaki previously found that insulin resistance, a sign of diabetes, may be another risk factor for brain plaques linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

“Our study clearly makes the point that high cholesterol can directly or indirectly contribute to plaque in the brain,” Sasaki said.

This research was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

Source: American Academy of Neurology (AAN)