Statin use is not implicated in cognitive decline

Researchers report that there is no link between statin use and cognitive decline. The findings were published on Nov. 18, 2019 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Written by Bruce Sylvester

Researchers report that there is no link between statin use and cognitive decline. The findings were published on Nov. 18, 2019 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“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,” said 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 in  Sydney, Australia

As background, the authors noted that statin therapy has been a widely used treatment for decades for persons with heart disease or high cholesterol. But some isolated incidents of cognitive decline in statin users raised concern about a potential cognitive side effect of treatment. “Many factors can contribute to the cognitive symptoms that isolated case reports describe. What we’ve come away with from this study is a reassurance for consumers to feel more confident about their statin prescription.” Samaras said.

The investigators undertook a prospective observational study of 1,037 elderly Australians age 70 to 90 years. Endpoints of the six-year study were memory and global cognition (by neuropsychological testing every 2 years) and total brain, hippocampal and parahippocampal volumes (by magnetic resonance) in a subgroup (n = 526).

The researchers adjusted results for age, sex, education, body mass index, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, smoking, and apolipoprotein Eε4 carriage.

Over the 6-year period they investigators found no difference in the rate of decline in memory or global cognition between statin users and never users.

“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. There was also no difference in the change in brain volumes between the two groups,” said Samaras.