Statins reduce risk of incident Alzheimer’s disease?

I recently read an editorial in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatryby Dr. Larry Sparks about statins and cognitive function. Multiple studies have hinted at reduced risk of incident Alzheimer’s disease with elective statin use. I thought this would be worthwhile to share with the readers of my blog and website (http://braindiseases.info).

As I stated above, multiple studies have linked a high fat/ high cholesteroldiet with increased risk of Alzhemier’s dementia. Hence many studies have been carried out to determine if lowering cholesterol levels with the use of statin group of medications (these are popular cholesterol lowering medications with names like atorvastatin (Lipitor), simvastatin (Zocor) among others) reduces the risk of Alzhemier’s dementia. While some studies have indicated a benefit others have provided contradictory results indicating little to no benefit on cognitive functioning.

As Dr. Larry Sparks states in his editorial there is likely a small subset of patients who will benefit from statin therapy. The trick lies in identifying these patients early on in their disease course from others in whom there is little or no benefit from statin therapy. Also it seems that some statins may be more beneficial than others when it comes to reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia. This difference is likely due to their individual differences in blood brain barrier permeability (meaning to what extent they are able to penetrate the brain).

Till we are better able to identify this subgroup of individuals, there are certain things which we can implement in our own lives to tilt the scales in our favor. A low fat, low cholesterol diet should be encouraged. The cardiovascular (lowering the risk of myocardial infarction)and possible neurological benefits (with respect to possibly reducing the risk of incident Alzheimer’s dementia and stroke) makes this a very attractive proposition. Moreover this is a relatively cheap intervention. It though needs a comprehensive strategy to educate the public about the benefits of a low fat/ low cholesterol diet ( about the benefits of eating right {more vegetables, less of red meat and saturated fats} and incorporating a regular exercise schedule. People who already have cardiovascular risk factors like hypertension, diabetes mellitus and high cholesterol (dyslipidemia) should talk to their doctors about possible statin therapy.

I want to add that statins just like any other medication do have their own risk of side-effects. They thus should only be taken under the supervision of a physician.

The adage ” Eat right, live long and happy” still holds good!!! To that I would add ” EAT RIGHT, SAVE A BRAIN!!!”

Nitin Sethi, MD