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Statins and Memory Loss

Statins are a mainstay in diabetes therapy, but connections have been made between memory impairment and their use.

Previous case studies and case series have found a link between the use of statins and memory loss. However, there is a lot of conflicting information on the topic.

A recent retrospective cohort study was undertaken to determine whether there is an association between statin use and acute memory loss. 482,543 participants on statins were compared to 482,543 participants receiving no therapy and 26,484 receiving a lipid-lowering agent other than a statin. Participants were analyzed 30 days after first exposure to therapy. The comparison between groups utilized logistic regression to analyze the results, which allowed an estimate of an odds ratio (OR) with a 95% confidence interval (CI).

The results of the study found an association between the use of statin therapy and acute memory loss at 30 days. Statin use compared to non-users of a lipid-lowering agent yielded an odds ratio of 4.40 (CI: 3.01-6.41). When comparing the group of non-statin lipid-lowering agents to non-users, the odds ratio was 3.60 (CI: 1.34-9.70). However, when comparing the statin group to the non-statin lipid-lowering agent group, the odds ratio was 1.03 (CI: 0.63-1.66).

While the results support the hypothesis that there is an association between statin use and acute memory loss, it also makes an association between other lipid-lowering agents and acute memory loss. There was no statistical difference found between acute memory loss caused by statin use when compared to other lipid-lowering agents. This study makes the association between acute memory loss and any lipid-lowering agent, not limiting the effect to statins alone. It should be noted that there is also some evidence in various studies that long-term statin use may be beneficial to memory. This study does not address that conflicting viewpoint.

Practice Pearls:

  • The results of this study found an association between the use of statins and acute memory loss.
  • There is also an association between memory loss and the use of other lipid-lowering agents.
  • This study did not look at the long-term effects of statins on memory.

Researched and prepared by Devon Brooks, Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate from LECOM College of Pharmacy, reviewed by Dave Joffe, BSPharm, CDE

Strom, Brian L., Schinnar, Rita, Karlawish, Jason, et al. “Statin therapy and the risk of acute memory impairment.” JAMA Internal Medicine. 175.8 (2015): 1399-1405. Print.