Research Grant - 2010

Research Category: Neurodegenerative Disease Award

Dr Cassandra Szoeke was the recipient of Brain Foundation grant funding in 2010

Neurodegenerative Disease Award

Neurodegenerative Disease Award
Lipids and cognition in postmenopausal women
Dr Cassandra Szoeke
National Ageing Research Institute, University of Melbourne
Funded By Gustof Ringstrom, Phyllis Edith Chard and Alice Margaret Jones Estate
Co-Investigators : Professor Lorraine Dennerstein and Professor David Ames

Project Summary:

Dementia and cognitive impairment cause significant disability, morbidity and mortality within our ageing community and current therapies are inadequate. The emerging therapies will be limited by both cost and side effect profiles. For this reason population-based prevention strategies are required now more than ever to reduce the burden of disease in our community.

Early work from our group examining a single episodic memory task in 1999 showed an association between memory and lipid levels. Examining lipid measures from 1991-1999, showed that serum concentration measures closer to the time of memory testing showed a stronger association than those measured three years before. The proposed study will analyse lipid measures in 2002 (the year full cognitive test battery were applied) in order to examine the relationship between memory scores and lipid levels. This data-set has other cardiovascular risk factors (hypertension, blood sugar levels, BMI, smoking, diagnosis of hypertension, diabetes, heart disease) already available and therefore analysis can examine these variables.

We will examine the potential strategies for prevention by addressing midlife cardiovascular risk factors and cognition. Studying healthy ageing people earlier in their life is important to pick up factors, which may be targets for prevention of later life disease. For this reason our study examines a population of healthy ageing women who have been followed for more than a decade as part of a larger study of the menopausal transition. We will examine the relationship between cardiovascular risk factors (including high blood pressure, weight, diabetes, heart disease, smoking, cholesterol levels) and memory. The results of this study would fill a significant gap in our current knowledge on the role of lipids, a potential avenue of treatment, PRIOR to the postmenopausal phase of women’s ageing. The assessment of risk factors would provide direction to potential preventive strategies to be instituted in the mid-life period to improve cognitive outcomes in ageing and targets for screening to achieve earlier detection. Outcomes of this study will inform healthcare practice in terms of preventive strategies and treatment of mid-life risk factors.

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