Medical News Today
There is no link between statin use and memory impairment, researchers have concluded, after evaluating effects of the cholesterol-lowering drugs over 6 years in more than 1,000 older people in Australia.
In fact, for certain individuals, statins may even offer some protection against memory decline, they suggest.
The results show that, among participants with risk factors for dementia, those who used statins had a slower rate of decline in memory and thinking skills than those who did not use the drugs.
The researchers hope that the findings will help to allay fears among consumers who have become concerned following reports of isolated cases of statin users experiencing cognitive decline.
Results are ‘reassuring’
Dr. Perminder Sachdev, a professor of neuropsychiatry at UNSW and co-director of its Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing, is the study’s senior author.
He says, “In this study, our data reassuringly suggests that the use of statins to lower cholesterol levels is not likely to adversely affect memory function.”
“However,” he adds, “the evidence is mounting that statins are safe in relation to brain health, and this concern should not preclude their use in individuals who are likely to benefit from lower cholesterol levels.”
Prof. Samaras says that up to half of people do not fill their statin prescription, mainly because they are concerned about reports of individuals experiencing cognitive decline from statin use.
“We carried out the most comprehensive analysis of cognition in elderly statin users to date, and found no results to support that cholesterol-lowering statins cause memory impairment,” she notes.
No link to faster decline in memory, cognition
For the new study, the team used data from the prospective, observational Sydney Memory and Ageing Study.
After adjusting the results to control for potential influencers, such as sex, age, and weight, the researchers found no difference in the rate of change in memory and other features of cognition between those who used statins and those who did not.
“There was also no difference in the change in brain volumes between the two groups,” observes Prof. Samaras, who is also an endocrinologist at St Vincent’s Hospital, in Sydney.
In addition, she and colleagues saw a slowing of cognitive decline among statin users with heart disease, diabetes, or other risk factors for dementia, compared with participants who had never used this type of drug.
“Our findings,” she adds, “demonstrate how crucial a healthy metabolism is to brain function and how therapies can modulate this to promote healthy aging.”
“What we’ve come away with from this study is a reassurance for consumers to feel more confident about their statin prescription.”
Prof. Katherine Samaras