Do Statins Really Cause Memory Loss
In The Wall Street Journal in February 2008, Dr. Orli Etingin, vice chairman of medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center, is quoted as saying that the statin drug Lipitor makes women stupid. Dr. Etingin was referring to several cases she has personally seen in which patients taking statins found themselves unable to concentrate, remember words, or otherwise experienced a cognitive deficit. The deficits went away when the statin was stopped, according to Dr. Etingin.
This was not the first time statins had been implicated in memory loss. Numerous anecdotal reports have claimed that taking statins can produce memory loss and cognitive decline and that these problems may be subtle and insidious in onset.
Fear Of Statin Links To Memory Problems ‘unfounded’
“Statins do NOT cause memory loss despite fears they could harm cognitive health,” reports the Mail Online.
Statins are widely prescribed to lower cholesterol in people at risk of a heart attack or stroke. However, some people have reported problems with memory or thinking abilities after starting statins.
Previous trials of statins did not look at memory or cognition specifically, and studies that have looked for a link since have used differing memory tests, making it hard to compare findings.
This study tested the memory and overall cognitive function of 1,037 people aged 70 to 90 at several points over a 6-year period. At the end of the study, researchers did not find any differences in memory and thinking ability between participants who took statins and those who did not.
Find out more about statins and why they are used.
Statins In Prevention And Treatment Of Dementia And Alzheimers Disease Proposed Mechanisms
Most of the proposed mechanisms relate to the effects of statins on the cerebrovascular system . Dementia has been proposed to be caused by large vessel disease and/or microvascular damages and risk factors for each are slightly different. Statins may be able to show benefits in each pathology. The most evident protective effect statins have on cognition is the prevention of stroke and possible subsequent vascular dementia. The effects of statins may not only be affecting stroke risk, but may also be preventing microvascular infarcts that lead to dementia without an acute stroke.
The protective effects of statin may also be independent of their cholesterol lowering effects entirely. This is supported by evidence of statins ability to reduce ischemia in the brain by affecting endothelial cell function and blood flow, decreasing LDL oxidation, enhancing the stability of atherosclerotic plaques, inhibiting vascular smooth muscle proliferation and platelet aggregation, and reducing vascular inflammation . Additionally, statins inhibit Rho GTPases in vascular wall cells leading to increased expression of atheroprotective genes and inhibition of vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation .
Recommended Reading: What Can Cause Bleeding In The Brain
Can Statins Reduce Risk Of Memory Loss
In Study, Statin Users Were Half as Likely to Develop Dementia
In a study that included about 1,700 elderly people, those who took cholesterol-lowering statin drugs were about half as likely to develop dementia over five years of follow-up as those who did not.
The findings do not prove that statins protect against age-related mental decline, but they are compelling enough to justify primary prevention studies that might prove the association, researchers say.
“We aren’t suggesting that people should take statins to prevent cognitive decline if they don’t need them for other reasons,” study author Mary N. Haan, DrPH, of the University of Michigan School of Public Health, tells WebMD. “But we need a trial designed to determine if statins really do reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.”
How Could Statins Do Both
Considering the evidence presented above, it is conceivable that statins can contribute to both reversible cognitive impairment as well as preservation of cognition through the prevention of dementia. If statins have both of these effects, there are a variety of possible explanations as to how this is occurring. The various physiological effects statins have on the body can explain how they can cause a myriad of different outcomes.
Don’t Miss: Where Is Jfks Brain
The Fdas Stance On Statins And Memory:
Of course not all symptoms related to forgetfulness or memory loss can be attributed to statins. Many people develop cognitive decline regardless of medications. This can happen even when someone is taking no drugs at all. That said, the FDA offers the following warning regarding statins and memory:
There have been rare postmarketing reports of cognitive impairment associated with statin use. These cognitive issues have been reported for all statins. The reports are generally nonserious, and reversible upon statin discontinuation, with variable times to symptom onset and symptom resolution .
The Reason Doctors Push Statins
All of this information may leave you bewildered why doctors prescribe statin drugs at all.
The answer isnt pretty.
One study found that doctors often dont report statin side effects because they dont believe their patients and/or they dont believe theres a correlation between the two.
Harvard Medical School professor Jerry Avorn, MD, revealed in a Washington Post interview that:
We already know that there is horrendous underreporting of side effects. Ninety to 99 percent of serious side effects are not reported by doctors.
Pharmaceutical companies have a vested interest in continuing to promote this multibillion-dollar industry.
Right now, one in five US adults use statins.
Recently, the American Heart Association released new guidelines that, if followed, could double the number of people taking cholesterol-lowering medications.
You do the math.
The drive to increase the number of people placed on statins is working. According to GoodRx.com, the statin drug Lipitor is currently the #1 selling drug in the US.
You may think that the side effects of statin may be worth it if they significantly reduce your risk of heart disease, but their ability to prevent heart disease is widely overblown.
According to the latest research published in the British Medical Journal, the supposed benefits of statins are small and uncertain and the indiscriminate use of statins for heart disease prevention is a waste of healthcare resources.
Also Check: Shrinking Brain Tumors Naturally
Does Statin Use For Cholesterol Control Cause Cognitive Decline Dementia
Statin therapy not associated with cognitive decline, dementia in older adults, study says.
Observational study adds to growing evidence that statin therapy is not associated with cognitive decline and dementia in older adults, but randomized trials are still needed.
The use of statin therapy in adults 65 years old or older is not associated with incident dementia, mild cognitive impairment , or decline in individual cognition domains, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology .
Cognitive decline and dementia are major health concerns in older individuals, affecting about 10% of people over 60 years old. Statins are used to reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or bad cholesterol, thus they are a fundamental treatment for prevention of primary and secondary cardiovascular disease events. The Food and Drug Administration released a warning in 2012 about cases of apparent short-term cognitive impairment with statin use, while acknowledging that the cardiovascular benefits outweigh their risks.
After a median of 4.7 years of follow-up, researchers found 566 incident cases of dementia . Compared with no statin use, statin use was not associated with risk of all-cause dementia, probable AD, or mixed presentations of dementia. There were 380 incident cases of MCI found .
It’s Not Dementia It’s Your Heart Medication: Cholesterol Drugs And Memory
Why cholesterol drugs might affect memory
ONE DAY IN 1999, Duane Graveline, then a 68-year-old former NASA astronaut, returned home from his morning walk in Merritt Island, Fla., and could not remember where he was. His wife stepped outside, and he greeted her as a stranger. When Gravelines memory returned some six hours later in the hospital, he racked his brain to figure out what might have caused this terrifying bout of amnesia. Only one thing came to mind: he had recently started taking the statin drug Lipitor.
Cholesterol-lowering statins such as Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor are the most widely prescribed medications in the world, and they are credited with saving the lives of many heart disease patients. But recently a small number of users have voiced concerns that the drugs elicit unexpected cognitive side effects, such as memory loss, fuzzy thinking and learning difficulties. Hundreds of people have registered complaints with MedWatch, the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations adverse drug reaction database, but few studies have been done and the results are inconclusive. Nevertheless, many experts are starting to believe that a small percentage of the population is at risk, and they are calling for increased public awareness of the possible cognitive side effects of statinssymptoms that may be misdiagnosed as dementia in the aging patients who take them.
Recommended Reading: Can A Brain Bleed Kill You
Statin Benefits In Preventing And Treating Dementia And Alzheimers Evidence For
Statins for the prevention and treatment of dementia began generating attention when two epidemiologic studies reported a lower risk of dementia in statin users . Since then, many medical professionals have investigated the potential beneficial effects of statins on long-term cognition and decreased incidence of cognitive related disease.
The protective effects of statins have been examined in a variety of reviews and meta-analysis . A meta-analysis that included observational studies and a randomized control study found a significant protective effect against all-cause dementia and Alzheimers disease with statin users . When compared to non-statin users, those who used statins had a significantly lower relative risk of developing all-type dementia .
Statin use was associated with significantly reduced risk of incident Alzheimers disease after adjustment for age, gender, education, and APOE genotype. A significant, but lesser, protective effect was found with non-statin lipid lowering agents conferring that the protective effect from statins may be due to their lipid lowering effects instead of potentially other novel mechanisms . However, most studies in the literature have found no association between non-statin lipid-lowering drugs and the risk of dementia .
Can Statins Cause Brain Fog
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that flows through your bloodstream. Youâre at risk for a heart attack or stroke if your cholesterol numbers arenât good. Statins might help. Thatâs a class of drugs designed to lower your bodyâs level of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also known as âbadâ cholesterol.
You May Like: What Affects The Way Children’s Brains Become Wired
Statin Side Effects: Memory Loss Depression And More
There is little doubt that cholesterol-lowering statin drugs like Mevacor, Lipitor, and Crestor are linked to serious memory loss, fuzzy thinking, and learning difficulties.
One way statins do this is by , a nutrient thats protective of both the heart and the brain.
CoQ10 deficiency is believed to be responsible for the fatigue and muscle pain commonly experienced with statin use.
- Of all the people who are hospitalized for a heart attack, only 25% have high cholesterol.
- The other 75% have normal cholesterol.
Clearly, high cholesterol is not the risk factor weve been led to believe.
A New Role For Statins: Lower Dementia Risk
If youre considering taking a statin drugor you are on one alreadyyou may have questions. These drugs are very good at lowering cholesterol and can reduce the risk of dying from heart disease.
But there have been reports of memory problems with the medications. In 2012, the FDA updated its safety information for statins to include memory loss and confusion as possible side effects. Some people fear that statin drugs can increase the risk for Alzheimers disease and other kinds of dementia.
The latest news should put these fears to rest. It comes from a new study in the journal Neuroepidemiology. It included 30 other large studies and looked at more than 9 million people. The research found that statins did not increase the risk of dementia. In fact these medications it. So taking a statin may help both your heart and your mind.
Previous research showed similar results. In a 2013 study, Johns Hopkins researchers looked at 41 studies that monitored 23,000 people for memory problems for up to 25 years. The result? There was no evidence that statins caused dementia and some evidence that they prevented memory loss.
Doctors arent sure how statins might protect the brain. They may help the same way that they help the blood vessels that feed the heartby reducing inflammation and the buildup of plaque that prevents blood from flowing. Some forms of dementia are caused by similar blockages in the blood vessels of the brain.
You May Like: Eeg Slowing
Statin Drugs Can Cause Memory Loss
If you suffer from high cholesterol, you understand what can happen if its not taken care of properly. High cholesterol, though controllable, can leave you at risk for numerous medical issues, including cardiovascular disease, strokes, and heart attacks.
In order to control high cholesterol, your doctor may prescribe certain drugs called statin drugs, which are used to help control, maintain, and lower your cholesterol levels. Statins are the standard drugs that doctors turn to to help treat and control this disease. Statins are sold under a number of names including Lipitor, Mevacor, Pravachol, and Zocor.
There are many side effects to these commonly prescribed drugs for cholesterol. Patients using statin drugs may experience muscle pain and weakness, digestive problems, rash and flushing, liver damage, and lastly, memory loss.
Due to the varying side effects of statin drugs, some doctors tend to shy away from prescribing it until other measures have been used to help control their patients high cholesterol. Living a healthy lifestyle by exercising, eating well, and keeping your weight controlled are other alternatives to taking statin drugs and experiencing memory lapses and memory loss. These alternatives should be taken into consideration, especially if you feel the side effects outweigh the risks of higher cholesterol levels.
Funding Support And Author Disclosures
Dr. Ballantyne is supported by National Institutes of Health grant R01 HL134320. Dr. Ballantyne has received grant and research support from Abbott Diagnostic, Akcea, Amgen, Esperion, Ionis, Novartis, Regeneron, and Roche Diagnostics and has been a consultant for Abbott Diagnostics, Althera, Amarin, Amgen, Arrowhead, AstraZeneca, Corvidia, Denka Seiken, Esperion, Genentech, Gilead, Matinas BioPharma, New Amsterdam, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Regeneron, Roche Diagnostics, and Sanofi-Synthelabo. Dr. Nambi is a coinvestigator on a provisional patent along with Baylor College of Medicine and Roche on the use of biomarkers to predict heart failure and a site principal investigator for studies sponsored by Amgen and Merck.
Grundy S.M., Stone N.J., Bailey A.L., et al.”2018 AHA/ACC/AACVPR/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/ADA/AGS/APhA/ASPC/NLA/PCNA Guideline on the management of blood cholesterol: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines”. J Am Coll Cardiol2019 73:e285-e350.
Recommended Reading: What Does Bleeding In The Brain Mean
Evidence For Statins Increasing Risk Of Dementia
Alarming case reports began to accumulate in the early 2000s. A description of 60 case reports, published in 2003, advised taking concerns about statin-related cognitive impairment seriously, though cognitive adverse responses were most likely uncommon.4 Simvastatin, atorvastatin, and pravastatin were the medications taken by the patients who were described. About half of these patients noticed cognitive problems within two months of starting treatment. The symptoms improved after drug discontinuation in about half of those affected, which is different from what would be expected of a person with Alzheimers disease, which is a progressive condition.
The link between cognitive symptoms and statins, furthermore, is supported by a couple of additional lines of evidence: first, some patients with this problem who noted improvement after stopping their statin medication experienced a recurrence when the medication was restarted.4 Second, a couple of small but well-designed experimental double-blind, placebo-controlled trials associated poorer performance on neuropsychological tests with the use of statins.5,6 In a description of statin effects on a couple of affected patients, the authors reminded us that a cognitive effect which looks small on neuropsychological testing can cast a much larger shadow over actual day-to-day functioning.7
Statins Keep Cholesterol In Check But They Can Affect Memory And Strength
A lawyer contacted Beatrice Golomb, a physician at the VA San Diego Healthcare Center, because he could no longer follow a normal conversation with his clients. A radiologist told Golomb that he found himself suddenly unable to distinguish left from right. A third person told her he had grown so forgetful that his doctor assumed he had Alzheimers.
All three had developed their memory problems after taking a cholesterol-lowering statin drug, and the symptoms improved after they stopped the medication.
The statin revolution began in 1987, when lovastatin was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Since then, this class of drugs has transformed cardiac medicine, says Allen Taylor, chief of cardiology at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Cardiovascular disease affects one in two people. This is the one drug that works.
But these drugs are not without risks. Golomb has amassed thousands of reports at her Web site Statineffects.com, detailing adverse reactions from statins. She says that cognitive problems are the second-most-common side effect reported in her database, after muscle pain. In a 2009 report in the journal Pharmacotherapy, Golomb described 171 patients whod reported cognitive problems after taking statins.
Im very skeptical , Taylor says. Most patients taking statins have a greater risk of developing cognitive decline from heart disease than from the drugs.
If youre taking a statin, what kind of problems should you look out for?
Read Also: Jahi Mcmath Necrosis