2 Common Health Problems Linked to Higher Alzheimer’s Risk

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Doctor discussing test results with a patient
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If your cholesterol or blood sugar levels are not where they should be — beginning as early as age 35 — you might be at higher risk for being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease later in life, according to a recent study.

Researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine looked at three stages of adulthood during the study:

  • Early (ages 35-50)
  • Middle (51-60)
  • Late (61-70)

Their findings were published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia, the medical journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The researchers found that abnormal measurements on the two factors during early to middle adulthood were associated with a risk of Alzheimer’s disease in older adulthood.

The data for the Boston University study came from more than 4,900 participants in the Framingham Heart Study, a long-term, multigenerational cardiovascular study.

Participants in the study were regularly monitored for their glucose (blood sugar), cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Their blood pressure, body mass index and smoking status also were monitored.

Later in life, the participants received cognitive health exams.

According to an article about the researchers’ findings from the National Institute on Aging, which partially funded the Boston University study:

“… researchers determined that the impact of glucose and cholesterol levels on Alzheimer’s risk begins much earlier in life than previously thought. They found that lower HDL (known as good cholesterol) and higher triglyceride (a type of fat found in the blood) levels measured in blood in early adulthood and high blood glucose levels in middle adulthood contributed to future risk of developing Alzheimer’s.”

The National Institute on Aging also says the findings suggest that managing cholesterol and glucose levels early in adulthood could lower that risk.

The institute adds that additional study is needed to determine if abnormal cholesterol and glucose levels also raise the risk of other types of dementia.

For more news on Alzheimer’s disease, check out “This Vaccine May Lower Your Alzheimer’s Risk by 40%.”

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