Cholesterol is linked to amyloid deposits in the brain, and unhealthy patterns could contribute to Alzheimer’s, according to a new study.

While other studies have shown a relationship between high cholesterol and increased Alzheimer’s risk, the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center study is the first to specifically link cholesterol to amyloid deposits, according to lead study author Bruce Reed, Ph.D. Researchers looked at 74 people over age 70, almost half of whom had mild cognitive impairment, and examined PET scans of their brains.

“This study provides a reason to certainly continue cholesterol treatment in people who are developing memory loss regardless of concerns regarding their cardiovascular health,” said Reed, the associate director of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

While guidelines may vary based on age or risk, for HDL cholesterol, a level of 60 mg/dl or higher is considered ideal, whereas LDL should be below 70 mg/dl for those at a high risk of heart disease. 

Results were published Dec. 31 in JAMA Neurology