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Alzheimer's disease health centre

Statins

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Introduction

This information is for people with dementia and their carers. It tells you about statins, a treatment that has been tried for dementia. It's based on the best and most up-to-date research.

Do they work?

We don't know. There hasn't been enough research to know if statins help people with dementia.

What are they?

Statins are a group of drugs that can reduce your cholesterol level.

There are lots of different statins available. Some of the main ones (with brand names) are:

  • atorvastatin (Lipitor)

  • fluvastatin (Lescol)

  • rosuvastatin (Crestor)

  • simvastatin (Zocor, Simzal).

Most of these drugs need to be prescribed by a doctor.

How can they help?

There isn't enough research to know whether statins help people with dementia. One review of several studies, which looked at more than 700 people, found that statins didn't help with dementia symptoms. [165]

How do they work?

It is not clear whether statins work for dementia. If they do, it may be that reducing cholesterol also reduces levels of the protein in the brain that causes Alzheimer's disease. Or statins may work by reducing inflammation. [166]

Harms

The review we found that side effects of statins were rare. [165] Generally, statins are a safe treatment, although there are rare cases of muscle damage.

How good is the research?

We found a large summary of the evidence, called a systematic review. [165] The review looked at seven smaller studies that altogether included more than 700 people. It found that statins didn't help dementia symptoms. The researchers said that there needs to be more research into whether statins can help people with dementia.

Citations

For references related to Dementia click here.
Last Updated: June 20, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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