Alzheimers Home > How High Cholesterol and Heart Disease Relate to Alzheimer's Disease
Although we can't do much about our age or genetic profile, recent research suggests that maintaining good overall health habits may help lower a person's chances of developing Alzheimer's disease, as well as reducing the chances of developing other serious diseases. Scientists are studying a number of health, lifestyle, and environmental factors that could make a difference. Some of the factors include controlling conditions such as:
Other factors may include:
- Engaging in intellectually stimulating activities
- Physical activity
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Ginkgo biloba
- Social engagement.
High Cholesterol and Heart Disease
In recent years, basic research in laboratories, as well as population and animal studies, has suggested a connection between a person's risk for Alzheimer's disease and high cholesterol (known as hypercholesterolemia). These findings led scientists to wonder whether cholesterol-lowering drugs might also lower the risk of developing symptoms associated with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Two recent population studies that examined this question found reduced risk of dementia in people who took statins, the most commonly prescribed cholesterol medication. The effects did not appear to be related to lowering cholesterol in and of itself, but rather to some other action of the statins.
Other research has found that a high level of the amino acid homocysteine is associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. High levels of homocysteine are known to increase a person's risk for heart disease, and studies in mice have shown that high levels of this amino acid can make neurons stop working and die. The relationship between a person's risk for Alzheimer's disease and homocysteine levels is particularly interesting, because blood levels of homocysteine can be reduced by increasing intakes of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12.