Are cholesterol-lowering statins associated with reduced Alzheimer risk?

December 12, 2016

An analysis of Medicare data suggests that high use of cholesterol-lowering statins was associated with a reduced risk for Alzheimer disease but that reduction in risk varied by type of statin and race/ethnicity, findings that must be confirmed in clinical trials, according to a new article published online by JAMA Neurology.

Previous research has suggested a protective association between statins and Alzheimer disease (AD).

Julie M. Zissimopoulos, Ph.D., of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and coauthors analyzed claims data from a final sample of nearly 400,0000 Medicare beneficiaries who used statins to examine the association of statin use and the onset of AD. The researchers examined high and low exposure to statins and statin type for the four most commonly prescribed statins: simvastatin, atorvastatin, pravastatin and rosuvastatin.

Among the key findings:

A noteworthy limitation of the study is that it cannot establish causality. The authors note clinical trials, including all racial and ethnic groups, are needed to confirm their findings.

"This suggests that certain patients, facing multiple, otherwise equal statin alternatives for hyperlipidemia treatment, may reduce AD risk by using a particular statin. The right statin type for the right person at the right time may provide a relatively inexpensive means to less the burden of AD," the study concludes.
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(JAMA Neurol. Published online December 12, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.3783; available pre-embargo at the For The Media website.)

Editor's Note: The article contains funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

The JAMA Network Journals

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