Statins: Good for the brain as well as the heart?

A study in Taiwan has found a link between the regular use of statins and reduced risk of dementia.

 

A large cohort of 34000 people aged 60+ in Taiwan was studied, around half of whom had been prescribed statins. They were followed over 10 years for the diagnosis of any type of dementia.

Writing in the International Journal of Cardiology, the researchers from the National Yang Ming University in Taipei discovered that statin users had a 22% lower risk of incident dementia over the period.

Risk reduction was greater among females than males, showing a 24% reduction in risk of dementia, compared with a 14% reduction in men. The study authors said the gender effect may be due to hormone-modulated pharmacologic or metabolic mechanisms.

Risk reduction was also greatest with high-dose statins and with statin use for more than three years.

Researchers recorded people’s first prescription of statins, which are normally used to reduce blood cholesterol levels, and looked at their later development of dementia, incorporating comparisons of statin users with non-statin users.

It is not definitively known whether statins reduce the risk of dementia, and if so, how it is they act to reduce risk. The study also does not show whether statins reduce risk of all dementias, or only specific types.

There is presently no known method of preventing dementia, although it is possible that many of the same methods used to prevent heart disease may also help prevent it, particularly vascular dementia.