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John Growdon, Neurology, answeredPeople with high total cholesterol face increased odds of Alzheimer's disease later in life. A desirable level is less than 200 milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter (mg/dL) of blood. People with cholesterol readings of more than 251 mg/dL during middle age were twice as likely as people with lower cholesterol levels to develop Alzheimer's within 21 years, according to a study of 1,449 adults published in Archives of Neurology. There is some evidence that statins, a commonly prescribed class of cholesterol-lowering drugs, may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease in some populations. Consistent with this research, a study published in Nature Genetics found that genes that influence Alzheimer's risk in the elderly tend to be involved with cholesterol and inflammation.
In recent years, research has revealed several lines of evidence to support the hypothesis that cholesterol plays a role in Alzheimer's. One of these is the finding from population-based observation studies that people who take cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins have a considerably lower risk of developing Alzheimer's.
Alzheimer's can be compared to coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis), in which plaques composed of cholesterol form in blood vessels and block blood flow to the heart. In Alzheimer's, plaques made up of a brain protein called beta amyloid (or a-beta) form in the spaces between nerve cells, blocking the normal flow of communication between cells and impairing brain function.Helpful? 1 person found this helpful.