Better memory and thinking seen in over 85s despite high cholesterol


By Philip Tubby | Monday 05 March 2018

US scientists have found that high levels of cholesterol in people over the age of 85 is linked with a reduced decline in memory and thinking ability. The findings are published today in the scientific journal, Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

High cholesterol levels are linked to cardiovascular disease and many studies have also linked it to a higher risk of developing dementia. In this study, scientists determined whether people over the age of 85 with high levels of cholesterol had problems with their thinking and memory.

They found that over 85 who had fewer problems with their memory and thinking also had higher levels of cholesterol.

Dr David Reynolds, Chief Scientific Officer of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“The overwhelming weight of evidence indicates that high cholesterol, especially in midlife, is linked to an increased risk of dementia. It is very difficult to identify a single risk factor for dementia in this selective group of very old people who do not already have the condition. The finding that high cholesterol in people over 85 may be linked to better cognitive function, probably reflects the genetic makeup of people who survive to this advanced age rather than the amount of cholesterol in their blood.

“There is no suggestion or evidence from this research that people should increase their cholesterol levels to maintain a healthy brain and we know high cholesterol is a risk factor for many other health conditions. Currently the best evidence to maintain good brain health is to eat a balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight, not smoke, exercise regularly and keep blood pressure and cholesterol in check. If anyone has concerns about their cholesterol level or any other aspect of their health, they should talk to their doctor.”


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Philip Tubby