- Statins prevent heart attacks and save lives1,2,3,4,5.
- There is a good deal of evidence that statins are also brain protective6,7,8, especially simvastatin- shown to reduce Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease risk about 50%9. At the same time there are numerous published case reports of statin-related memory loss and these are discussed in my article:
Statins save lives. They do so by reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol and raising HDL (good) cholesterol. LDL cholesterol collects in artery walls, becomes oxidized and forms plaque, a fatty substance that accumulates over time. As plaque accumulates it becomes vulnerable to “rupture”, forming an acute blood clot that obstructs the artery. If it occurs in a coronary artery, which supplies blood to the heart muscle itself, a heart attack occurs. If it occurs in a cerebral (brain) artery, a stroke occurs. In very large, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials of thousands of people looking at cardiac outcomes (heart attacks or emergency procedures required to prevent heart attacks such as angioplasty with stent or bypass surgery), statins reduced these events by 20 to 40%1,2,3,4,5. That amounts to an enormous advantage in preventing death and preserving priceless heart muscle. In addition, statins offer another benefit that no one ever anticipated. They are brain protective! Statins substantially slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease6 and slow the rate of age-related cognitive decline in normal folks7. Also, in animal studies, statins improved recovery after traumatic brain injury8. Simvastatin, in particular, has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases by 50%9. For these reasons, statins are life-saving and they preserve vitality and quality of life.
1Lancet. 2003 Apr 5;361(9364):1149-58.
Prevention of coronary and stroke events with atorvastatin in hypertensive patients who have average or lower-than-average cholesterol concentrations, in the Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial–Lipid Lowering Arm (ASCOT-LLA): a multicentre randomised controlled trial.
2Lancet. 1994 Nov 19;344(8934):1383-9.
Randomised trial of cholesterol lowering in 4444 patients with coronary heart disease: the Scandinavian Simvastatin Survival Study (4S)
3Rev Med Liege. 2004 Mar;59(3):167-73.
[Clinical study of the month. REVERAL and PROVE-IT: confirmation of the concept ” the lower, the better” for cholesterol therapy in patients with coronary heart disease].
4Lancet. 2011 Dec 10;378(9808):2013-20. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61125-2. Epub 2011 Nov 22.
Effects on 11-year mortality and morbidity of lowering LDL cholesterol with simvastatin for about 5 years in 20,536 high-risk individuals: a randomised controlled trial.
5Lancet. 2011 Jun 25;377(9784):2181-92. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60739-3. Epub 2011 Jun 12.
The effects of lowering LDL cholesterol with simvastatin plus ezetimibe in patients with chronic kidney disease (Study of Heart and Renal Protection): a randomised placebo-controlled trial.
7Neurology. 2005 Nov 8;65(9):1388-94.
Statins and cognitive function in the elderly: the Cardiovascular Health Study.
9BMC Med. 2007 Jul 19;5:20.
Simvastatin is associated with a reduced incidence of dementia and Parkinson’s disease.