Serum cholesterol levels within the high normal range are associated with better cognitive performance among Chinese elderly

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Objectives: The association between cognitive function and cholesterol levels is poorly understood and inconsistent results exist among the elderly. The purpose of this study is to investigate the association of cholesterol level with cognitive performance among Chinese elderly. Design: A cross-sectional study was implemented in 2012 and data were analyzed using generalized additive models, linear regression models and logistic regression models. Setting: Community-based setting in eight longevity areas in China. Subjects: A total of 2000 elderly aged 65 years and over (mean 85.8±12.0 years) participated in this study. Measurements: Total cholesterol (TC), triglycerides (TG), low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) concentration were determined and cognitive impairment was defined as Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score≤23. Results: There was a significant positive linear association between TC, TG, LDL-C, HDL-C and MMSE score in linear regression models. Each 1 mmol/L increase in TC, TG, LDL-C and HDL-C corresponded to a decreased risk of cognitive impairment in logistic regression models. Compared with the lowest tertile, the highest tertile of TC, LDL-C and HDL-C had a lower risk of cognitive impairment. The adjusted odds ratios and 95% CI were 0.73(0.62–0.84) for TC, 0.81(0.70–0.94) for LDL-C and 0.81(0.70–0.94) for HDL-C. There was no gender difference in the protective effects of high TC and LDL-C levels on cognitive impairment. However, for high HDL-C levels the effect was only observed in women. High TC, LDL-C and HDL-C levels were associated with lower risk of cognitive impairment in the oldest old (aged 80 and older), but not in the younger elderly (aged 65 to 79 years). Conclusions: These findings suggest that cholesterol levels within the high normal range are associated with better cognitive performance in Chinese elderly, specifically in the oldest old. With further validation, low cholesterol may serve a clinical indicator of risk for cognitive impairment in the elderly.






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Lv, YB, ZX Yin, CL Chei, MS Brasher, J Zhang, VB Kraus, F Qian, X Shi, et al. (2016). Serum cholesterol levels within the high normal range are associated with better cognitive performance among Chinese elderly. Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, 20(3). pp. 280–287. 10.1007/s12603-016-0701-6 Retrieved from

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David Bruce Matchar

Professor of Medicine

My research relates to clinical practice improvement - from the development of clinical policies to their implementation in real world clinical settings. Most recently my major content focus has been cerebrovascular disease. Other major clinical areas in which I work include the range of disabling neurological conditions, cardiovascular disease, and cancer prevention.
Notable features of my work are: (1) reliance on analytic strategies such as meta-analysis, simulation, decision analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis; (2) a balancing of methodological rigor the needs of medical professionals; and (3) dependence on interdisciplinary groups of experts.
This approach is best illustrated by the Stroke Prevention Patient Outcome Research Team (PORT), for which I served as principal investigator. Funded by the AHCPR, the PORT involved 35 investigators at 13 institutions. The Stroke PORT has been highly productive and has led to a stroke prevention project funded as a public/private partnership by the AHCPR and DuPont Pharma, the Managing Anticoagulation Services Trial (MAST). MAST is a practice improvement trial in 6 managed care organizations, focussing on optimizing anticoagulation for individuals with atrial fibrillation.
I serve as consultant in the general area of analytic strategies for clinical policy development, as well as for specific projects related to stroke (e.g., acute stroke treatment, management of atrial fibrillation, and use of carotid endarterectomy.) I have worked with AHCPR (now AHRQ), ACP, AHA, AAN, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NSA, WHO, and several pharmaceutical companies.
Key Words: clinical policy, disease management, stroke, decision analysis, clinical guidelines


Yi Zeng

Professor in Medicine

(1) Socioeconomic, behavior, environmental and genetic determinants of healthy aging and healthy longevity;
(2) Factors related to elderly disability and mental health;
(3) Methods of family households and elderly living arrangements forecasting/analysis and their applications in health services and socioeconomic planning, and market studies;
(4) Policy analysis in population aging, social welfare, retirement, and fertility transitions.

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