Midlife Cholesterol Level Linked to Alzheimer's Risk

Elevated levels increase subsequent risk of Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia

MONDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- In middle age, even mildly elevated cholesterol levels are associated with a significantly increased risk of dementia later in life, according to a study published online Aug. 4 in Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders.

Alina Solomon, M.D., of the University of Kuopio in Finland, and colleagues studied 9,844 Kaiser Permanente Northern California Medical Group participants who were assessed in 1964 to 1973 at ages 40 to 45 years old. After evaluating 1994 to 2007 medical records, they observed that 469 subjects had developed Alzheimer's disease and that 127 had developed vascular dementia.

Compared to cholesterol levels below 200 mg/dL, the researchers found that levels of 200 to 239 mg/dL and at least 240 mg/dL were associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease (hazard ratios, 1.23 and 1.57, respectively) and vascular dementia (hazard ratios, 1.50 and 1.26, respectively). Their adjusted quartile-by-quartile analysis -- with a level below 198 mg/dL as the reference quartile -- also showed that mildly elevated cholesterol (198 to 220 mg/dL) was associated with a significantly increased risk of Alzheimer's disease (hazard ratio, 1.25).

"Physicians tend to confine Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia to geriatric age borders and address symptoms as they occur," the authors conclude. "Our study, along with others, points out the importance of addressing risk factors as early as midlife, before the underlying disease(s) or the symptoms appear."

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Rick Ansorge

Rick Ansorge

Published on August 10, 2009

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