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Alzheimer’s Disease and Statin Drugs

New research says that taking cholesterol-lowering (statin) drugs, offers no protection against Alzheimer’s disease as opposed to earlier reports which indicated otherwise. The January 16, 2008, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology reports on a study that found no relationship between statin use and Alzheimer’s disease.

929 people with an average age of 75 who were studied for up to 12 years and agreed to a brain autopsy at death. 119 were taking statins at the beginning of the study. During the 12 years, 191 people developed Alzheimer’s disease with 16 of those being ones on the statins.

“Some studies have suggested people taking cholesterol-lowering drugs are less likely to have Alzheimer’s disease, but our longitudinal findings found no relation between statin use and Alzheimer’s,” said study author Zoe Arvanitakis, MD, MS, Associate Professor of the Department of Neurological Sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and member of the American Academy of Neurology. “The study also found no association between taking statins and a slower cognitive decline among older people.”

Researchers performed brain autopsies on more than 250 people who died during the study to examine the relation of statins to Alzheimer’s disease pathology and stroke in the brain, the two common pathological causes of dementia. The study found statin use at any time during the course of the study had no effect on pathology of Alzheimer’s disease or strokes.

These study results are limited, so no conclusive opinions should be made, just yet. Future studies will need to look at the associations of statins with other pathologic changes of Alzheimer’s disease that were not examined in this study. For more information see the website of the American Academy of Neurology: www.aan.com.