No statins link with memory loss: study

Researchers have evaluated the cognitive effects of statins in elderly consumers over six years, revealing no negative impact and potential protective effects in those at risk of dementia.

Findings from more than 1,000 older people assessed have revealed no links between statin medication and cognitive decline such as memory loss, presenting new advice amid some consumer concerns that statins may have a negative impact on cognitive health.

The collaborative study, led by researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing, UNSW Sydney, shows that statin use is even protective against memory decline in some individuals at risk of dementia.

The research is published in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Tracking cognition over time

The authors assessed changes to the brain in 1,037 people, measuring five areas of cognition using 13 different tests and MRI scans of the brain, over six years.

“Controlling for important and potentially contributory factors, such as age, sex and obesity, we found no difference in the rate by which memory and other aspects of cognition changed over time, between statin users and those who had never used the medication,” said first author Professor Katherine Samaras, Head of the Clinical Obesity, Nutrition and Adipose Biology Lab at the Garvan Institute, and endocrinologist at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney. “There was also no difference in the change in brain volumes between the two groups.”

Protective effects

Further, the researchers found that in individuals with risk factors for dementia, including heart disease or diabetes, statin use slowed down cognitive decline compared with those with the same risk factors who did not take statin medication.

“Our findings demonstrate how crucial a healthy metabolism is to brain function, and how therapies can modulate this to promote healthy ageing,” Professor Samaras said.

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