INDIANAPOLIS – Previous explorations of a link between statins, a cholesterol lowering medication, and cognitive decline have produced inconsistent results. New research reveals that the relationship between statin use and cognitive decline appears even more complex than had been thought.
In a three year epidemiological study, researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute, Inc. have found an association of statin use with less cognitive decline in elderly African Americans and report that, surprisingly, the association is even stronger for those who had discontinued use than for continuous users. Their findings are published in the Nov. 6 issue of Neurology.
In 2001 and again in 2004, the IU School of Medicine researchers evaluated 1146 African Americans aged 70 and older living in Indianapolis testing them in various cognitive areas including language, attention and calculation, memory and orientation. The researchers also compared use of statins and whether, if used, they were taken consistently. While cognitive decline in statin users was less than those who did not take statins, those who continued to take statins from 2001 to 2004 had greater cognitive decline than those who were taking statins in 2001 but were no longer taking them in 2004. Study participants who discontinued statin use did not differ from those who continued to use statins in any other health, demographic, clinical or biochemical characteristics.
If statin use were directly associated with a reduction in cognitive decline, continuously taking statins would presumably produce the greatest effect. The study authors say that in light of their findings that the association between statins and decreased cognitive decline is more complex than previously realized, carefully designed randomized clinical trials of statins are needed to provide definitive answers to their potential role in dementia prevention.
***Ralph’s note- It appears that initial use of statins had some benefit on cognitive ability, but then had a negative rebound effect. The wording here is difficult so those in the initial study up to 2001 had an advantage. However, that same group when re analyzed from 2001 to 2004. The Statin users fared much worse than those who stopped after 2001.
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