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Issue 173 Item 4 More Evidence Links Statins and Decreased Risk of Depression

Current statin use was more strongly linked with reduced risk of depression among individuals with preexisting cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Susan S. Jick and colleagues at Boston University School of Medicine in Lexington, Massachusetts, propose that the relationship is mediated by improved quality of life among patients taking a statin. Their report follows another that suggests statins may reduce the risk of psychological disorders, independently of statins’ impact on serum cholesterol levels.

Dr. Jick’s group performed a nested case-control study evaluating outcomes among subjects between 40 and 79 years old in the United Kingdom General Practice Research database.

They identified 458 patients diagnosed with depression between 1991 and 1999, and compared them with 1380 controls. Their multivariate analyses adjusted for smoking, body mass index, stressful life events and pre-existing peripheral vascular disease.
The adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for depression in current lipid-lowering drug users was 0.7 for individuals prescribed a statin for less than 1 year and 0.4 for those prescribed for longer than 1 year, compared with untreated hyperlipidemic subjects. The OR for depression was similar in those taking fibrates or other non-statin lipid-lowering agents and untreated subjects.

The investigators note that current statin use was more strongly linked with reduced risk of depression among individuals with preexisting cardiovascular disease (OR = 0.3) compared with those without cardiovascular disease (OR = 0.5).

"There are some indications that statins are more effective in treating high cholesterol and other cardiovascular risk factors than other lipid-lowering drugs," Dr. Jick told Reuters Health. It may be that "the improvement in health conferred by the statins could be responsible for the improved mental health."

The association could also be related to increased health consciousness and compliance among patients taking statins, the authors suggest. Arch Internal Med 2003;163:1926-1932.

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