Under the Hood

Study Debunks Claims That Statins Side Effects Cause Memory Loss

The potential side effects of statin medications may not always lead to cognitive decline. That is according to a new study that found no link between the cholesterol lowering drugs and memory loss despite consumer claims that its intake could harm brain health.

Statins have been widely used since the 1990s. The drug was designed to help people reduce heart problems in people with heart disease or high cholesterol.

However, some consumers reported cognitive decline after taking statin. This led many at-risk people to avoid the drug, which puts them at higher risk of heart disease. 

The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, debunked claims that regular intake of statin could negatively affect memory. It even showed that the drug helped protect some patients against the effects of dementia.

The findings come from the analysis of data from over 1,000 adults. Researchers followed the participants for more than six years, monitoring their cognition using tests and MRI brain scans.

"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," Katherine Samaras, study author and head of Clinical Obesity, Nutrition and Adipose Biology lab at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia, said in a statement. "What we've come away with from this study is a reassurance for consumers to feel more confident about their statin prescription."

In the study, some participants reported lower rates of memory decline after regular intake of statin. The drug appeared effective to slow down cognitive decline, even in people with risk factors for dementia, such as heart disease and diabetes.

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

The study highlights that the use of statins to lower cholesterol levels may not cause changes in memory function. Statins are safe in relation to brain health, according to Perminder Sachdev, senior study author and co-director of the Center for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA).

However, the researchers noted more studies are needed to further understand the long-term effects of the drug. 

senior Health experts expect to see more people with dementia over the coming years, with the current rate of one individual developing the condition every 65 seconds in the U.S. Pixabay

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