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New study adds to link between cholesterol and Alzheimer's disease

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A person’s cholesterol level may be a predictor of amyloid plaque build-up in the brain, a new study finds.

Doctors have used cholesterol levels for years to predict heart attacks and strokes. Because cholesterol is modifiable, researchers suggest that further studies on the link could eventually reduce the incidence of Alzheimer ’s disease and that statins could prove useful in treating or preventing it. The latest research was published in the online journal JAMA Neurology. Researchers used PET scans to conduct scans of the brains of 74 older patients without dementia and looked for higher levels of amyloid deposits in brain regions most prone to early signs of build up.

Previous research has analyzed the brains of corpses. Individuals with high levels of what is commonly referred to as bad cholesterol showed clear signs of the build up but so did individuals with low levels of “good” cholesterol.

All of the individuals in the group had signs of high cholesterol and were being treated aggressively for high cholesterol. Their average cholesterol levels were within the optimum range set by the American Heart Association.

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