For senior loved ones and their families, an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis can be devastating. There are many ways to help manage this disease, which affects memory and other parts of cognitive function. Because there is not yet a cure, it is understandable that older adults want to do what they can to reduce their Alzheimer’s risk.
Researchers are still learning about the disease. There is no single, definite cause, but scientists have uncovered several risk factors associated with the disease. This may include cholesterol levels.
Is There a Connection Between Cholesterol and Alzheimer’s Disease?
While some studies suggest a link between Alzheimer’s disease and high cholesterol, it is not a certainty. For example, the research has not yet shown whether high cholesterol leads to Alzheimer’s, or if this form of dementia can actually cause higher cholesterol. Other research has found no connection at all between cholesterol and Alzheimer’s.
One 2011 study published in the academic journal Neurology found that people with high cholesterol levels had more brain plaques compared to people with normal or lower cholesterol levels. Brain plaques, or accumulation of the protein amyloid, are considered a trademark sign of Alzheimer’s.
Another study published in 2017, however, found no connection between high cholesterol and increased risk of Alzheimer’s. The research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, also found no association in people who carry the APOE4 gene variant. This variant has been connected to cholesterol metabolism and a risk of memory disorders.
What to Do About Cholesterol
The mere presence of cholesterol is not a health threat. In fact, people cannot live without cholesterol. It is important for the development of cell membranes, hormones like testosterone and estrogen, and the bile acids used for digestion.
However, high levels of a certain type of cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) can be harmful. LDL cholesterol has been linked to health risks like heart attack and stroke.
Many lifestyle factors can help reduce LDL cholesterol:
- High fiber intake
- Plenty of omega-3 fatty acids
- Lots of exercise, even just walking
- Drinking alcohol only moderately
Genetics may make some people more likely to develop high cholesterol. If diet and exercise do not resolve high LDL cholesterol, your doctor may prescribe medication.
How to Reduce Alzheimer’s Disease Risk
A lot of advice for healthy cholesterol also applies to Alzheimer’s risk, including physical activity and consuming a diet full of lean protein, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables. Here are some other ways you can reduce Alzheimer’s risk factors:
- Quit smoking
- Get your blood pressure under control
- Reduce risks of falling in the home
- Get enough sleep at night
- Engage in mental activities by taking classes, reading, or learning a new hobby or skill
- Nurture friendships and stay socially connected
Heritage Encourages Both Mental and Physical Health
The caring staff at Heritage Senior Communities provides enriching experiences for residents, including wellness programs and optional dining services. We also offer specialized dementia care for residents with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Contact us today for questions or a tour.