Patients typically associate high cholesterol levels with conditions that affect the heart like cardiovascular disease. However, high cholesterol levels can also have a negative impact on the health of the brain.
High cholesterol levels can give rise to any problem in the body that is aggravated or caused by poor circulation. Poor circulation in the brain can cause blockages in the blood vessels in the brain or detract from the body's ability to circulate blood adequately in the brain. This situation can aggravate or cause the following three neurological conditions:
While a variety of factors can cause a patient to suffer a stroke, high cholesterol is a particularly dangerous risk factor. Stroke is a highly common and potentially fatal neurological episode that strikes approximately 795,000 each year.
Those with a family history of stroke should periodically have their cholesterol levels checked to determine if they are at risk. When you're having your cholesterol checked, it's important to note that LDL cholesterol levels are the ones that are important to look out for.
LDL or "low-density lipoprotein" cholesterol can clog the arteries and block the blood stream. If blood becomes blocked in the brain, parts of the brain will not receive adequate blood and therefore oxygen. This could cause irreparable brain damage and permanently detract from brain functioning.
Numerous studies have explored the link between cholesterol in the brain and the onset of dementia. Evidence of these studies that a high cholesterol level is especially risky for patients that have had excess cholesterol in the brain since as far back as mid-life. These patients may experience dementia because parts of their brain have been suffering from an inadequate oxygen supply for decades.
Patients with high cholesterol who also exhibit other risk factors for dementia like high blood pressure are sometimes prescribed statins to diminish their risk. Statins are drugs that help to lower the levels of both cholesterol and triglycerides in a patient's blood.
Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia, and as such it is more likely to be seen in patients with high cholesterol. Alzheimer's is like dementia, but it is considered even more severe because it is not reversible or curable once it develops in a patient.
It is generally thought that Alzheimer's disease is highly related to genetics, with cases typically running in families. Other risk factors include depression, traumatic head injuries, and hypertension.
Those with risk factors like a family history of Alzheimer's and high cholesterol can take statins to prevent the onset of the condition. They should also engage in preventive health measures like regularly exercising and keeping their minds active as they age to keep their memories sharp.
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