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Controlling Cholesterol and Atherosclerosis to Reduce Your Risk

Controlling Cholesterol and Atherosclerosis
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in the blood. High cholesterol does not cause damage over days, weeks, or months. Rather, over years, high blood cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis, which is a narrowing or complete blockage of arteries because of the buildup of plaque. Both arteries in the brain and neck are affected by plaque buildup.
 
Research has suggested that people with high cholesterol levels have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Cholesterol is involved in the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain. Mutations in a gene called CYP46 and the apoE E4 gene variant, both of which have been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease, are also involved in cholesterol metabolism. Several studies have also found that the use of cholesterol medicines called statins, which lower cholesterol levels, is associated with a lower likelihood of dementia.
 
You should have your blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels checked (with a lipid panel test) at least once every five years; however, if you have risk factors for heart disease or stroke, your healthcare provider may recommend that you have your cholesterol monitored more frequently. If your triglyceride or cholesterol levels are high, talk to your doctor about what you can do to lower them. You may be able to lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels by eating better (see Low Cholesterol Diet) and exercising more (see Exercise and Cholesterol). Your doctor may also prescribe medication.
 
(Click Lowering Cholesterol for more information on treating high cholesterol.)
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