Alzheimer’s Risk Increased with Modest Cholesterol Elevation in Middle Age
Posted Aug 20 2009 10:46pm
Having average cholesterol levels of 220 or higher at age 40 to 45 raises your risk of Alzheimer’s by up to 58%. This a new study was conducted by Kaiser Permanete and was reported in the Journal Dementia & Geriatric Cognitive Disorders.
My take on this? A study like this can be easily be misinterpreted as high cholesterol causing Alzheimer’s later in life. The researchers were careful in stating this there was a strong association between then two, but not that high one causes the other. So what’s the connection?
We know that poor sleep quality or quantity alters your lipid metabolism, elevating cholesterol levels. We also know that people with sleep-breathing problems are more susceptible to clotting all over the body, especially in the brain. One study showed that people with untreated obstructive sleep apnea have much thicker blood viscosity, which tends to clot and cause blockage in small vessels in the brain. Either treating with CPAP or thinning the blood helps with the clotting.
Since all modern humans are on a continuum with regards to problems breathing at night while sleeping, the higher up this continuum you’re on, the higher your risk of developing Alzheimer’s later in life (along with heart disease, heart attack and stroke).
This is why lowering your cholesterol levels may make you feel better, but doesn’t lower your overall risk of progressive upper airway narrowing which can bring on obstructive sleep apnea with its’ complications such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease.