According to new research, those who neglect elevated cholesterol levels during midlife significantly increase their risk of developing neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia.
Scientists from Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research and the University of Kuopio in Finland analyzed data on 10,000 individuals spanning a period of 40 years. They found those with cholesterol levels higher than 240 milligrams per deciliter of blood had a 66 percent greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Even those with only slightly elevated cholesterol (200 – 239 mg/dL) increased their risk by 52 percent.
The study’s senior author Dr. Rachel Whitmer calls it an early risk factor for dementia and says it can be modified through lifestyle changes.
She adds that almost 100 million Americans have either high or borderline cholesterol levels.
In addition to regular exercise, proper diet can lead to lower cholesterol. Specifically, health practitioners have recommended eliminating processed and red meats from the diet and replacing them with fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon or mackerel.
Fish oil is also available in the form of nutritional supplements.