OCT 29, 2023 1:30 PM PDT

Higher Triglyceride Levels Linked to Lower Dementia Risk

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Older people with higher levels of triglycerides may have a lower risk of dementia and experience slower cognitive decline than those with lower triglyceride levels. The corresponding study was published in Neurology

Triglycerides are fatty acids that store unused calories and provide the body with energy. They circulate in the blood and are the most common fat in the body. Excessive levels of triglycerides can increase risk of heart disease and stroke. 

However, some studies indicate that higher levels of triglycerides may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. In the current study, researchers sought to investigate this link further. 

To do so, they first analyzed data from 18, 294 individuals aged 65 years old and over who did not have dementia or a history of cardiovascular events at enrolment. Participants were followed for an average of 6 years. During this period, 823 developed dementia. 

The researchers compared participants' rate of dementia diagnosis with their lipid profiles over the same period. The participants had average triglyceride levels of 106 milligrams per deciliter. Healthy adult triglyceride levels are considered to be below 150 mg/dL. 

Ultimately, the researchers found that higher triglyceride levels were linked to lower risk of dementia. Participants with triglyceride levels of 63- 106 mg/dL were 15% less likely to develop dementia than the lowest triglyceride group with levels of 62 mg/dL or less. Meanwhile, those with 107- 186 mg/dL were 24% less likely to develop dementia than the lowest triglyceride group, and those with 187 mg/dL or higher were 36% less likely to develop dementia than the lowest group. 

The researchers next validated their findings using a dataset from the UK Biobank including 68, 200 participants who were followed for an average of 12 years. Among this cohort, they found that dementia risk increased by 17% each time triglyceride levels doubled. 

To explain the findings, the researchers wrote that higher triglyceride levels may reflect better overall health and lifestyle behaviors that may protect against dementia. They noted, however, that as they only included people aged 65 and older who had no cognitive issues at the beginning of the study, their findings may not apply to other populations. 

“Future studies are warranted to investigate whether specific components within the total circulating pool of plasma triglycerides may promote better cognitive function, with the hope of informing the development of new preventive strategies,” concluded the researchers in their paper. 


Sources: Science DailyNeurology

About the Author
Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets. When she's not writing, she is COO of Xeurix, an HR startup that assesses jobfit from gamified workplace simulations.
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