Although controversial, statins, a class of drugs used to lower cholesterol, were found to provide a protective effect against dementia in a recent study.
In a paper presented at a European meeting of cardiologists, Tin-Tse Lin, M.D., from Taiwan reported that in his study of 58,000 patients, high potency statins had the strongest protective effects against dementia.
Lin noted that previous studies have considered statin therapy to exert a beneficial effect on dementia. “But few large-scale studies have focused on the impact of statins on new-onset, non-vascular dementia in the geriatric population.”
Accordingly, the current study examined whether statin use was associated with new diagnoses of dementia.
The researchers used a random sample of 1 million patients covered by Taiwan’s National Health Insurance.
From this they identified 57,669 patients aged 65 years and older who had no history of dementia in 1997 and 1998. The analysis included pre-senile and senile dementia but excluded vascular dementia.
There were 5,516 new diagnoses of dementia during approximately 4.5 years of follow-up. The remaining 52,153 patients aged 65 and over formed the control group.
Subjects were divided into groups according to their mean daily dosage with researchers discovering higher doses of statin reduced the risk of developing dementia by three-fold.
Lin said the potency of the statin appeared to make a difference in reducing dementia.
“To the best of our knowledge, this was the first large-scale, nation-wide study which examined the effect of different statins on new onset dementia (except vascular dementia) in an elderly population. We found that high doses of statins, particularly high potency statins, prevent dementia,” Lin said.
However, recent reports of statin-associated cognitive impairment have led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to list statin-induced cognitive changes, especially for the older population, in its safety communications.
Source: European Society of Cardiology