High cholesterol in later life may mean better brain health

High cholesterol may provide your brain with an advantage as you age.

High cholesterol link to brain health

A study of older people has found that having a total cholesterol level higher than it was in midlife is tied to a lower risk of marked cognitive decline in those aged 85–94. This was in stark contrast to the results found for the age group that was 10 years younger.

The findings showed that among study subjects aged 75–84, those whose total cholesterol was higher than it was in midlife had a 50 per cent higher risk of marked cognitive decline.

However, among those aged 85–94 whose total cholesterol was higher than it was in midlife, risk for marked cognitive decline was 32 per cent lower.

They found that among the cognitively healthy members of the group aged 85–94, having had a high total cholesterol level in midlife was linked to a reduced risk of marked cognitive decline.

"(The) results have important implications for researching genetic and other factors associated with successful cognitive ageing," according to study author Professor Jeremy Silverman.

For their analysis, the researchers examined data on 1897 participants from the Framingham Heart Study, all of whom had healthy cognitive function when they entered the study.

They investigated associations between total cholesterol levels and incidences of marked cognitive decline that emerged during the decades of follow-up as the participants progressed through their middle and later years of life.

The findings reveal the need to look more closely at different age groups in this type of research.

They challenge studies that have concluded that cholesterol is linked to higher risk for cognitive decline in older people — but those studies have mainly focused on adults up to the age of 75.

Prof Silverman points out that their findings should not be taken to mean that those aged 85 and older should now seek to raise their cholesterol levels.

"We don't think high cholesterol is good for cognition at 85," he adds, "but its presence might help us identify those who are less affected by it."

"We hope to identify genes or other protective factors for cognitive decline by focusing on cognitively healthy very old people who are more likely to carry protective factors."

Read the full study.

Have you had your cholesterol checked? How does this news make you feel about your latest cholesterol reading?

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    COMMENTS

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    Assisi
    7th Mar 2018
    11:23am
    I am confused in respect of what is said in the first paragraph and the fourth
    Rosret
    7th Mar 2018
    1:40pm
    hehe me too - must have high cholesterol levels or is it low or was it low and now its high. Good grief.
    I think the author's brain is in a muddle - too much butter?
    KSS
    7th Mar 2018
    12:55pm
    Well here's a better report from Medscape today:

    https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/893192?nlid=121030_1842&src=WNL_mdplsfeat_180306_mscpedit_wir&uac=175467DZ&spon=17&impID=1574993&faf=1

    It shows cardiovascular exercise training may help slow the decline in brain function seen in Alzheimer’s patients, a new review of past research suggests. So yet again the benefits of exercise are clear. It can also lower cholesterol levels which the researchers above agree is still not good for the over 85s.
    Polly Esther
    7th Mar 2018
    4:06pm
    Sick and tired of all this rubbish being quoted and unquoted, too much of it.
    Next week it'll all be contradicted anyhow. If someone can reach their 90's who is to care what their cholesterol reading is any way. If sky high obviously it didn't matter much.


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