ApoE + LDL = AD? (And what about the RNC?)

Dear Fellow Dumb-Dumbs and Dilettantes,

Beau and I watched the Kentucky Derby together (along with the Preakness and Belmont Stakes) throughout my childhood.

When I was 17—–the year Gato del Sol was running for the roses—–I asked Beau to explain the horse-racing odds to me.

“What is the different between 8-3 and 3-8?” I said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

He looked at me long and hard.

“My children are idiots,” Beau finally responded, without bothering to enlighten me.

My wise brother Lee–who is now the head of traffic security for the Republican National Convention in Tampa and is weighing odds and risks of all sorts–was implicated in my admonishment even though he was only 11 at the time. Sorry, bro!

To this day, I still don’t completely understand the odds or my father. But as of a few days ago, I am beginning to comprehend something Beau knew all too well: The likelihood of getting Alzheimer’s disease increases as your levels of LDL (the bad cholesterol) and insulin increase.

I’m not sure how to represent this equation in mathematical terms, but
Bercaws (and others) don’t have a good chance against AD if they have high LDL on top of certain forms of the ApoE gene.

But which comes first? The chicken or the egg? (Both high in cholesterol.)

Does your LDL increase because you are predispositioned for AD or are you at a higher risk of AD because of heightened LDL levels? Of course, there are a multitude of other factors to consider as well. Not to mention the obvious other dangers of high LDL: heart attack and stroke.

I’m not saying that you or I will get AD because of high cholesterol. I’m  saying, based on the research, that the odds do increase if sticky plaque is in your arteries.

After 46 years of superbly low cholesterol levels, I suddenly am showing a VERY high level of LDL. Interestingly, I’m at about the same age Beau was when he started seeing an increase his LDL levels. To compensate, Beau went into diligent-diet mode, eating veggies and fruit, taking fish oil, yet his LDL remained high for the rest of his life. Why didn’t his levels go down and why did he get AD? Great minds all over the world are trying to figure out what science is at work behind the math.

My goal, like a race horse, is to train harder to beat the odds. I’m going to lower my LDL ASAP and not get AD.

I’m not an idiot, ole dad. I get it now.


Gato del Sol

One Comment Add yours

  1. Patrick Sullivan says:

    You are clearly smarter than the average bear. The fact that you show concern about your cardiovascular health (i.e. cholesterol levels) implies that you know how important it is to keeping your brain healthy too!. For too long (up until 2005) neuroscientists believed the brain was essentially immune to peripheral insults (e.g. high cholesterol and insulin). Today, they have a much stronger appreciation for keeping the rest of the body healthy so that the brain doesn’t suffer. If your genetic risk is higher (due to inheritance of AD genes) there are ways you can at least delay the onset of AD (preventing AD is unknown) but it is the hardest pill for people to swallow. This pill is a routine, a lifelstyle, hopefully begun in midlife that involves a healthy diet, exercise, stress coping mechanisms, and a good nights sleep. All of these, especially diet and excercise should keep your, cholesterol and glucose levels low, but if they don’t then ask your doctor for medications that can help in this area. I’m fully aware of how difficult it is for people to swallow the “lifestyle” pill, which is why so many of us are working on ways to develop medications that do their best to mimic this pill. Best of luck to you.

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