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High cholesterol may contribute to Alzheimer's risk

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

Aside from affecting one's cardiovascular fitness, unhealthy cholesterol test results may put an individual at a higher risk for developing Alzheimer's disease later in life, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Fukuoka in Japan found that individuals who had higher cholesterol were significantly more likely to have plaque buildups in their brains, compared to those with normal blood lipids (86 percent compared to 62 percent).

Plaque buildups are caused when amyloid proteins accumulate in the brain. This is thought to be one of the leading causes of Alzheimer's disease, but it is less clear what causes the buildups in the first place.

While the findings suggest that cholesterol may be implicated in the accumulation of amyloid proteins in the brain, the researchers said the relationship may be somewhat complicated. Their results showed that individuals who were treated with cholesterol-lowering statin medications were no less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease.

Additionally, the study showed no association between high cholesterol and tangles, which are clumps of tau proteins also associated with Alzheimer's disease. The team concluded that further research is needed to determine cholesterol's role in the development the condition.

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