Getting your cholesterol and glucose levels in a healthy range at a young age could save you from an Alzheimer’s diagnosis later in life.
That’s according to Boston University School of Medicine researchers, who found that lower HDL (high-density “good” cholesterol) and high triglyceride levels at age 35 are linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s.
The Boston scientists in this new study also concluded that high blood glucose levels measured between ages 51 and 60 is associated with Alzheimer’s risk in the future.
“While our findings confirm other studies that linked cholesterol and glucose levels measured in blood with future risk of Alzheimer’s disease, we have shown for the first time that these associations extend much earlier in life than previously thought,” said the study’s senior author Lindsay Farrer , chief of biomedical genetics at the Boston University School of Medicine.
High LDL has been linked to Alzheimer’s risk in previous studies, but the link between HDL and Alzheimer’s in the past has been inconclusive, according to the researchers.
The scientists for this study used data from participants of the Framingham Heart Study, who were examined at 4-year intervals throughout most of their adult lives.
The researchers found that lower HDL (the good cholesterol) is predictive of Alzheimer’s risk in an early adulthood age period (35 to 50 years) and middle age period (51 to 60 years). Also, they found that high blood glucose – a precursor of diabetes – during mid-adulthood is predictive of Alzheimer’s risk.
Managing these factors starting in early adulthood can lower one’s risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as Alzheimer’s disease, according to the researchers.
“Intervention targeting cholesterol and glucose management starting in early adulthood can help maximize cognitive health in later life,” Farrer said.
“The unique design and mission of the Framingham Heart Study, which is a multi-generation, community-based, prospective study of health that began in 1948, allowed us to link Alzheimer’s to risk factors for heart disease and diabetes measured much earlier in life than possible in most other studies of cognitive decline and dementia, ”he added.
These findings appear online in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.
This new study comes after other Boston researchers recently discovered a “vicious cycle” between daytime napping and Alzheimer’s dementia.
The Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers found a link between the two: Excessive daytime napping predicted an increased future risk of Alzheimer’s dementia, and a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s dementia sped up the increase in daytime napping during aging.