High Cholesterol Associated with a Lower Risk for Parkinson’s disease (PD)

High levels of cholesterol in the blood have been associated with an increased risk for coronary artery disease (CAD), which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Ironically, however, several studies have shown that high cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol are associated with a lower risk for developing Parkinson’s disease (PD). A large population-based cohort study from Israel showed that higher cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels than the recommended rate have a protective effect against developing Parkinson’s disease (PD). This study was published August 25, 2018 in Movement Disorders. This can pose a dilemma for doctors who on the one hand want to lower the risk for heart disease and strokes by lowering cholesterol levels in their patients, but on the other hand do not want to see their patients get Parkinson’s disease (PD). Actually, researchers have determined that only when LDL cholesterol is oxidized it presents a danger.

The Medical Databases of Maccabi Health Services Study

Participants in the study were from the medical databases of the Maccabi Health Services in Israel. There were 262,638 people between the ages of 40-79 who were not taking statin cholesterol lowering drugs. The study was carried out from 1999-2012. The participants were followed from their first cholesterol test until they developed Parkinson’s disease, died or the study ended. Results showed that mainly for men, a higher blood level of total cholesterol and higher LDL cholesterol was associated with a significantly lower risk for developing Parkinson’s disease.

Additional research is needed to confirm if high cholesterol levels can protect against Parkinson’s disease or if Parkinson’s disease shares a common cause with cholesterol.

Previous Studies

Several previous studies also discovered that low total and low LDL cholesterol levels were a high risk for Parkinson’s disease.

A population-based, cohort study carried out in the Netherlands, published November 15, 2006 in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that low LDL cholesterol levels were associated with an increased risk of Parkinson’s. They also found evidence that the blood levels of the antioxidant coenzyme Q10 was dependent on blood levels of LDL cholesterol. Coenzyme Q10 had been shown to have beneficial effects on Parkinson’s disease in animal studies and some preliminary clinical trials with humans. It is now well-known that reduced levels of coenzyme Q10 can occur as a side-effect for people taking cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins

A study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, published February 15, 2007 in Movement Disorders found that Low LDL cholesterol levels were associated with a higher risk for Parkinson’s disease for both men and women.

Parkinson’s Disease (PD)

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, it is estimated that by 2020 it will affect about a million Americans. More than 10 million people all over the world are living with Parkinson’s disease. Every year 60,000 Americans contract Parkinson’s disease. Aging is a major risk factor for getting Parkinson’s disease, but there are also many early onset cases that attack people in their 40s and 50s. So far there is no cure and treatment only focuses on treating symptoms. Parkinson’s is also an expensive disease, as it leads to disability and can impact greatly on the quality of life. It is estimated that medicines alone cost about $2,500 a year and surgery can cost up to $100,000 a person.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

  • Tremors at rest – Usually the tremor is only in one arm or on one side of the body.
  • Problems with chewing, swallowing and speaking
  • Rigid muscles – People with Parkinson’s can suddenly go rigid and fall over. This is especially dangerous when going downstairs.
  • Unable to smell things
  • Urinary and bladder problems
  • Constipation
  • Problems with sleeping
  • Depression
  • Memory problems
  • Fatigue
  • Problems with walking – The Parkinsonian Gait is a peculiar kind of shuffling walk.
  • Lewy bodies – Some people with Parkinson’s develop Lewy bodies in their brains, which can also lead to dementia.

Vitamin B3 and Fish

A type of Vitamin B3 called Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) has been found to help mice suffering from Parkinson’s disease and it may also be able to prevent motor decline in humans with Parkinson’s disease. It is found in small amounts in milk, but the best food source for it is Brewer’s Yeast or Nutritional Yeast found in health food stores. These kinds of yeasts are no longer alive, as no one should ever eat live yeast. Further research and trials are needed.

A scientific study also showed that a protein in fish called parvalbumin (PV) can prevent the formation of alpha synuclein (AS) in the brain. Deposits of alpha synuclein in the brain destroy nerve cells and lead to the development of Parkinson’s disease. Parvalbumin is found in largest amounts in herring, carp, cod, red snapper and salmon.

Long-term Care

Since Parkinson’s is a progressive disease leading to more and more of a decline in motor functions, the day may come when there is a need for long-term care in a skilled rehabilitation and nursing residential facility such as the Park Crescent Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in East Orange, New Jersey. Park Crescent offers long-term skilled nursing care at its best at the hands of a warm and caring staff.

Conclusion

More research is needed especially to determine what a doctor should do If there is a history of both heart disease and Parkinson’s disease in a family and high cholesterol may prevent Parkinson’s disease, but lead to coronary artery disease (CAD) if it is oxidized.

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