Statins Have No Effect on Cognitive Abilities

There are no adverse cognitive effects associated with the use of statins, according to a literature review published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Statin therapy was not linked to cognitive impairment in randomized controlled trials, according to a literature review published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Lead author Brian R. Ott, MD, director of The Alzheimer’s Disease & Memory Disorders Center at Rhode Island Hospital and professor at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and others searched various literature databases for relevant articles through December 2012 in order to synthesize randomized clinical trial evidence on the link between statin therapy and cognitive outcomes. The investigators included 25 relevant studies which compared statin treatment versus placebo or standard care and those that reported at least one cognitive outcome, such as frequency of adverse cognitive events or measurement using standard neuropsychological cognitive test scores.

The studies encompassed test results from 46,836 patients. An additional meta analysis combined the results of 14 of these studies, and that covered 27,643 participants.

The literature review was conducted in response to the continuing questioning merit of the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) warning about statins effects on cognition. This warning, enacted in 2012, allows the FDA to regulate labels on statin packaging. The cognitive changes the labels should warn of include attention span, problem solving, memory, and language or visuospatial abilities. The warning comes from a review of surveillance and case reports, observational studies, and randomized trials.

The review found no effects on cognitive abilities from statin use for patients with normal brain function or Alzheimer’s disease patients. The researchers believe the adverse cognitive effects reported were due to statin misuse and overdose.

Additionally, the researchers found that there may be more benefits from continuing on statin therapy to manage heart related diseases and prevent strokes than concerning oneself about the possible adverse cognitive effects of the drugs.

“We found no significant effects of statin treatment on cognition,” the authors concluded. “Given these results, it is questionable whether the FDA class warning about potential cognitive adverse effects of statins is still warranted.”

This research is aligned with the 2013 safety statement made by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association Cholesterol Guideline.