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Can Statins Help To Reduce The Symptoms Of Dementia?

Feb 8, 2024

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How Is Dementia Related To Cholesterol?

Do statins help with dementia symptoms?

Are Statins Safe To Take In Cases With Dementia?

Symptoms Of Dementia

Statins are a kind of drug that reduces blood cholesterol and was first designed to prevent heart disease and cardiac events. They are, meanwhile, also being used more often to prevent other conditions linked to high cholesterol.

Some researchers have hypothesized that changes in cholesterol metabolism and blood flow to the brain could be involved in the most common forms of dementia. A three-year longitudinal cohort study of older people with dementia in Sweden found that using statins is linked to improved cognition.

But certain statins are more effective than others in this area. According to estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO), 10 million new cases of dementia are diagnosed each year; nevertheless, there aren't many options for treatment or prevention.

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How Is Dementia Related To Cholesterol?

High cholesterol is linked to vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease, particularly in men. Researchers theorize that dysregulation of cholesterol impairs the body's normal process of metabolizing cholesterol, leading to an increase in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels that may be associated with various problems.

This may lead to atherosclerosis, which may increase the risk of vascular dementia, and dysregulatory tau protein absorption, which may hasten tau accumulation in the brain, a feature of Alzheimer's disease.

Because of this, in certain circumstances, statins may also help reduce the risk of dementia. Statins have been used to control blood cholesterol levels for a long time, mostly to reduce heart disease and subsequent cardiac events.

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Do statins help with dementia symptoms?

To determine whether statin use has an impact on older people's cognitive performance, researchers from Stockholm, Sweden's Karolinska University Hospital recently looked at data from the Swedish Registry for Cognitive/Dementia Disorders (SveDem).

The results of their investigation are offered in an article that was released in the journal Alzheimer's Research and Therapy.

Records were reviewed for 10,869 of the 15,586 individuals with various kinds of dementia who were prescribed statins and were diagnosed at an average age of 79.5 years. Beginning in 2007, all patients were followed up until their deaths, emigration, or the conclusion of their follow-up.

Dr. Sara Garcia-Ptacek, the study's principal investigator and lead author, is an assistant professor and neurologist at the Cognitive Clinic at Karolinska University Hospital. She stated to MNT that the potential neuroprotective effects of statins have been discussed for a long time."

While some clinical studies yielded negative results, observational research showed an association with dementia progression and/or prevention. The speaker went on to say that throughout time, the largest clinical dementia cohort in the world, Sweden, has seen changes in the indications and patient types receiving statins. "We aimed to investigate the relationship between statin use and cognitive function in SveDem cohort patients with Alzheimer's disease."

Researchers from Sweden evaluated cognition using the mini-mental state examination (MMSE), and the findings were published. Researchers looked at the scores from baseline and follow-ups for this publication. The data from the cohort was segmented based on the different statins that each member was taking. The data was adjusted to account for non-statin medications, demographics, and comorbidities.

Following up for three years, the researchers found that, on average, people taking one daily dose of a statin had 0.63 higher MMSE scores than people not taking the medicine.

Simvastatin was the most often prescribed statin in Sweden at the time, and after three years, its users' MMSE points were 1.01 higher than those of atorvastatin users. 

When compared to younger atorvastatin users, individuals on simvastatin who were younger than 79.5 years old at the time of diagnosis had 0.80 higher MMSE points after three years. Simvastatin users got 1.03 more MMSE points after three years than Rosuvastatin users.

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Are Statins Safe To Take In Cases With Dementia?

Dr. Segil claims that the study dispelled previous concerns about statins potentially confusing by showing that they are safe in this demographic of senior dementia patients and do not worsen cognitive impairment.

"Our current hypothesis is that these two things may be true simultaneously," states Dr. Garcia-Ptacek. "Acute changes during statin initiation, such as in brain cholesterol, may induce disorientation in sensitive individuals, but the long-term consequences may be protective." However, as of right now, this is just a theory that needs more investigation to confirm.

She added that further research was necessary to determine the possible mechanism underlying these findings. Dr. Segil, who declined to take part in the study, stated that he would like more data comparing the different types of statins. "This study investigated three different generic cholesterol-lowering medications, or statins,' which include rosuvastatin, simvastatin, and atorvastatin," he stated. I'm interested in seeing long-term follow-ups in patients who took these three medicines since the evidence suggests that one statin helps prevent memory loss more than another. This will allow neurologists like myself to make an informed decision about which statin to use over another.

Rosuvastatin is more well-tolerated than atorvastatin in clinical settings. I would be interested in seeing if rosuvastatin helped patients with memory loss in a follow-up trial side by side with atorvastatin because, as a family of medications, statins frequently are not [well] tolerated, he noted.

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References: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/could-statins-help-slow-down-the-development-of-dementia-symptoms#What-is-cholesterols-role-in-dementia?

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