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Statins can more than ­double risk of dementia for some users, study finds – World News

Statins can more than double the risk of dementia for some users, according to new research.

The pills, which reduce fatty cholesterol, are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the UK, with around eight million adults taking them daily to reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

More than 71 million prescriptions were dispensed in 2018 alone.

However, a new study shows that patients with mild cognitive impairment taking lipophilic statins more than double their risk of developing dementia compared to those who do not take statins.

Positron emission tomography (PET) scans of statin users revealed a “highly significant” decline in metabolism in the area of the brain that is first affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

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Patients with mild cognitive impairment or normal cognition who used lipophilic statins were found to have more than double the risk of developing dementia compared to statin non-users.

Over time, PET imaging of lipophilic statin users also showed a “substantial decline” in metabolism in the posterior cingulate cortex, the region of the brain known to decline the most significantly in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s.

Statins can help lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – known as “bad cholesterol” – in the blood, and reduce the production of it inside the liver.

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Different types of statins are available based on a patient’s health needs,

including hydrophilic statins that focus on the liver and lipophilic statins that are distributed to tissues throughout the body.

Researchers separated the study participants into three groups: baseline cognitive status, baseline cholesterol levels and type of statin used.

The participants underwent PET imaging to identify any regions of declining cerebral metabolism within each statin group. Eight years of clinical data was also analysed.

Patients with mild cognitive impairment or normal cognition who used lipophilic statins were found to have more than double the risk of developing dementia compared to statin non-users.

Dr Prasanna Padmanabham, of the University of California, Los Angeles, said: “By characterising the metabolic effects associated with statin use, we are providing a new application of PET to further our understanding of the relationship between one of the most commonly used classes of drugs and one of the most common afflictions of the aging brain.”

He added: “Findings from these scans could be used to inform patients’

decisions regarding which statin would be most optimal to use with respect to preservation of their cognition and ability to function independently.”

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