16 September 2009

Midlife cholesterol associated with risk of dementia

Elevated cholesterol in midlife and dementia risk
Dementia News (Alzheimer’s Australia): 4 September 2009
Researchers from the University of Kuopio, Finland; Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, and Boston University investigated the relationship between people’s levels of cholesterol in midlife and the development of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia in later life.

They studied the medical records of 9,844 multi-ethnic women and men from the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Medical Group database. Study participants had been given detailed health evaluations during 1964–1973 at ages 40–45 years. Between 1 January 1994 and 1 June 2007 the researchers ascertained who had developed Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. In evaluating the results they took into account age, education, race/ethnic group, sex, midlife diabetes, hypertension, midlife serum cholesterol levels, Body Mass Index, and late-life stroke.

Of the 9,844 participants, 469 had developed Alzheimer’s disease and 127 had developed vascular dementia.

The researchers found that midlife serum cholesterol levels were associated with an increased risk of both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. In fact, even moderately elevated cholesterol levels increased dementia risk. The researchers suggested that these findings indicate that dementia risk factors need to be addressed in midlife, before underlying disease develops or symptoms appear.

Reference: Solomon A, Kivipelto M, Wolozin B, Zhou J and Whitmer R. 2009. Midlife Serum Cholesterol and Increased Risk of Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia Three Decades Later. Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders, 28:75–80.

See related Alzheimer's News story: Study shows even moderately elevated cholesterol level increases dementia risk

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