A new study published last month in the journal JAMA Neurology has found that a person’s cholesterol level may be a predictor of amyloid plaque buildup in the brain. The study used Pet Imaging to conduct a one-time “snapshot” of the brains of 74 older patients who did not have dementia.
The researchers were specifically looking for amyloid plaques in brain regions most vulnerable to abnormal protein buildup. Previous research has indicated that higher levels of amyloid deposits have been present in the post-mortem brains of people who had had high levels of cholesterol. In this study, it was the first time that researchers found beta-amyloid proteins can collect steadily in those people living with higher cholesterol.

The average age of the participants was 78 years old. The study found that those who had high levels of LDL-C “bad” cholesterol were more closely linked to having more amyloid plaque deposits in regions of their brains.

The study also found that other ways of assessing a patient’s risk of heart attack or stroke – triglycerides and total cholesterol had no clear connection to amyloid plaques in the brain.

The researchers, from the University of California, Berkeley, University of California at Davis, and the University of Southern California reported that none of the participants had been diagnosed with dementia, though more than half had mild cognitive impairment, that sometimes progresses to Alzheimer’s disease.

While high cholesterol levels have been considered a well-founded predictor of heart attacks and strokes, problematic cholesterol levels may now raise worry about dementia risks as well.      Chicago Tribune  1/15/14

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