Statins likely to protect against memory loss too

July 29th, 2008 - 3:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 29 (IANS) Common cholesterol fighting drugs or statins are likely to protect against dementia and memory loss too, a recent study has found. “We found that statin users were about half as likely to develop dementia as those who did not take them,” said study author Mary N. Haan, of University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Researchers enrolled 1,674 Mexican Americans over the age of 60 who were free of dementia. “Our participants were fairly typical older people with lots of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease,” said Haan. “Until our study enrolled them, they had never had their memory tested.”

During the five-year study, 27 percent took a statin drug. A total of 130 people developed dementia or cognitive impairment.

Scientists controlled for a number of other dementia risk factors, such as education, a history of smoking, diabetes, stroke and whether the people had a gene thought to be a predictor of dementia.

“We aren’t suggesting that people should take statins unless they are necessary for other reasons. We hope this study and others like it will open the door to trials that would test the ability of statins to prevent dementia and other types of cognitive impairment,” said Haan.

“Health care providers should consider testing their older patients with diabetes or hypertension for cognitive impairment and memory loss.”

The most common side effects of statins are headaches, nausea, fever and muscle pain.

The study was published in the journal Neurology Tuesday.

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