June 25, 2024

Higher Triglyceride Levels in Older Adults Linked to Lower Dementia Risk, New Study Suggests

In a recent study published in Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, researchers have found a potential link between higher triglyceride levels and a lower risk of dementia in older adults. Triglycerides, which are a type of fat, may contribute to better cognitive function and slower cognitive decline over time.

The study analyzed health care data from 18,294 participants with an average age of 75, who were free from any prior diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. These individuals were followed for an average of six years, during which 823 people developed dementia.

The researchers examined measurements of total cholesterol, triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) of the participants each year. Based on their fasting triglyceride levels, the participants were categorized into four groups.

After adjusting for various factors that could influence the risk of dementia, such as education and cholesterol-lowering treatments, the researchers found that every doubling of triglyceride levels was associated with an 18% lower risk of developing dementia.

The study revealed that individuals in the second group, with triglyceride levels ranging from 63 to 106 mg/dL, were 15% less likely to develop dementia compared to those in the lowest triglyceride group. The third group, with levels of 107 to 186 mg/dL, had a 24% lower risk, and the fourth group, with levels of 187 mg/dL or higher, had a 36% lower risk compared to the lowest group.

Moreover, the researchers validated their results in another dataset consisting of 68,200 older adults from the U.K. They found a consistent 17% decreased risk of dementia with every doubling of triglyceride levels in this population.

The study also indicated that higher triglyceride levels were associated with a slower decline in composite cognition, which includes tests of global function, psychomotor speed, language and executive function, and memory over time.

Although the study provides evidence of a potential association between triglyceride levels and dementia risk, it does not prove causation. More research is needed to determine the specific components within triglycerides that may contribute to better cognitive function.

It’s important to note that the study focused exclusively on individuals aged 65 and older without initial cognitive issues, so the findings may not be applicable to other populations.

The study was supported by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and HCF Research Foundation. The researchers hope that their findings will pave the way for further investigations and the development of preventive strategies for dementia.


1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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