Low HDL levels associated with risk of dementia.




Ann Neur

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Professional Data: Hyperlipidemia


Cholesterol and other fats are shipped in the form of fat-protein packages called "lipoproteins." Four groups of lipoproteins use the bloodstream as an aqueduct: LDL, VLDL, HDL, and chylomicrons. The protein portion of a lipoprotein forms a sort of shell around the fat and also directs the lipoprotein to its appointed delivery site in tissues and organs.

HDL, or "high-density lipoprotein", does not form plaque and is thus called the "good" cholesterol. HDL picks up cholesterol from the tissues and sends it back to the liver for removal from the body. When HDL levels are where they should be, your body is disposing of cholesterol properly. When treating high blood cholesterol, health professionals try to bring the HDL level up as LDL comes down.

A recent study examined the potential link between low HDL levels and the risk of dementia in older adults. In 561 adults aged 85 years, the total cholesterol (TC), triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein levels, and HDL levels were recorded. History of stroke and cardiovascular disease were determined, as well as the presence of dementia. After evaluation, the researchers found an association between dementia and low HDL levels, but this association was not seen with any other lipids or lipoproteins. After those with a history or stroke or cardiovascular disease were excluded from the results, the association still remained significant. This study concluded by stating that low HDL levels are related with risk of dementia.1


1. Van Exel A. Association between high-density lipoprotein and cognitive impairment in the oldest old. Ann Neur. Jun 2002;51(6):716-721.