‘Good’ cholesterol may decrease risk of Alzheimer’s – how to keep levels in check

Dr Zoe says walking can reduce risk of dementia

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Everyone has cholesterol and everyone has levels of good and bad cholesterol.  Good cholesterol is known as high-density lipoprotein; this form of cholesterol is essential for overall cardiovascular health. Bad cholesterol on the other hand is known as low-density lipoprotein; this forms as a plaque in the arteries increasing blood pressure and the risk of coronary heart disease. A recent study has found good cholesterol may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia.

Published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, the data suggested high levels of good cholesterol were associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s.

The study in question was made up of 180 participants aged 60 and above.

Researchers observed the participant’s cognitive functions through a series of cognitive tests and correlated them with the cholesterol levels.

Results from the study could be used to develop new treatments for Dementia.

Speaking about the results author of the study Hussein Yassine said: “Here for the first time, we measure HDL particles in cerebrospinal fluid as a surrogate of brain HDL and find that greater levels of small HDL correlate with better performance on cognitive measures.

Now that we have this biomarker, our next step is to figure out what promotes the formation of these small HDL particles in the brain. Such new discoveries could then lead to a new list of medications in our fight against Alzheimer’s.”

While the results are positive, there are a few caveats to the study, primary among which are the difficulty in identifying which specific type of good cholesterol has the anti-Alzheimer effect.

Furthermore, the researchers say their findings cannot be generalised and the study does not show a cause.

Nevertheless, it provides an exciting gateway for a new avenue of dementia research; a field of health that has undergone massive changes in recent decades.

In the past dementia was seen as an inevitable part of ageing, something that was inevitable and occurred as the body declined.

However, in the 20th Century, it was discovered dementia was a disease, one that could be treated or cured.

Subsequently millions of pounds and dollars have gone into dementia research; scientists now estimate new treatments may be available within the next 10 years.

With one in three people born today estimated to develop dementia in their lifetime, there is a great sense of urgency that new treatments must be developed so these patients can be treated if or when they develop dementia.

For the moment there is a significant focus on identifying risk factors and ways of preventative action for dementia.

Also within the gamut of scientific research is identifying early signs of the condition.

A new study says how much someone drinks could be a symptom of the disease.

Published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers from the University of California have discovered a connection between alcohol misuse and dementia.

Dr Georges Nassan said: “What we found is that alcohol abuse may be the first sign of an underlying neurological condition when it presents later in life.

“While it is important to identify social factors that may lead to alcohol abuse, such as retirement, loneliness, or loss of income/loved ones/housing, our data should implore health care workers to avoid systematically attributing alcohol abuse to these aspects”.

As with the study on cholesterol more research is required before a conclusive link can be drawn between the two.

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