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Vascular Risks May Speed Cognitive Decline in Alzheimer's

Pre-diagnosis cholesterol abnormalities or diabetes may accelerate cognitive decline

MONDAY, Mar. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Pre-existing vascular risk factors such as abnormal cholesterol levels and diabetes may be associated with an accelerated cognitive decline in patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, according to the results of a study published in the March issue of the Archives of Neurology.

Elizabeth P. Helzner, Ph.D., of Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues studied 156 patients who were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at a mean age of 83 and followed them for a mean of 3.5 years.

The researchers found that subjects with higher pre-diagnosis levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and total cholesterol experienced a more rapid decline on cognitive test scores than those whose cholesterol levels were in the normal range. They also found that subjects with a history of diabetes had a more rapid decline in test scores compared to non-diabetics. Among subjects with a history of heart disease and stroke, declines were only observed in carriers of the apolipoprotein E e4 gene.

The study "provides further evidence for the role of vascular risk factors in the course of Alzheimer's disease," the authors conclude. "Prevention or treatment of these conditions can potentially slow the course of Alzheimer's disease."

Abstract
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