New Links Between Cholesterol and Depression in the Elderly
PharmaLive.com News Archive
Most people know that high cholesterol levels place them at increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Prior research has shown that particular types of strokes contribute to one's risk for depression, and that abnormal blood lipid levels can increase the risk of depression in the elderly.
However, new findings by French researchers, published in Biological Psychiatry, suggest the link between increased cholesterol and depression may be complicated. They evaluated a large population of elderly men and women (aged 65 and over) over a seven year follow-up period, assessing them for symptoms of depression and measuring their lipid levels.
They found that, in women, depression was associated with low levels of the "good" form of cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL). This disturbance in their cholesterol levels put them at higher risk for vascular disease, including stroke, by increasing their risk for developing lesions in their blood vessels called atherosclerotic plaques.
In contrast, the men who were at greater risk of depression had low levels of the "bad" form of cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL). This was especially true for those men with a genetic vulnerability to depression related to a serotonin transporter gene.
This finding in men raises important considerations. Although this pattern of low LDL levels seemingly protects them from developing cardiovascular diseases or strokes, this study suggests that it increases their mental health risk at the same time.
National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke.