NYMC Faculty Publications


Review of the Protective Effects of Statins on Cognition

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Review Article

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Elevated cholesterol is a major risk factor in the development of cardiovascular disease. Statins have proven to be effective in lowering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol as well as the incidence of cardiovascular events. As a result, statins are widely prescribed in the United States, with an estimated 35 million patients on statins. Many of these patients are older than age 65 and suffer from various comorbidities, including mild to severe cognitive impairment. Early studies looking at the effects of statins on cognition have shown that statin use may lead to mild reversible cognitive decline, although long-term studies have shown inconclusive findings. In recent years, studies have shown that the use of statins in certain groups of patients may lead to a reduction in the rate of cognitive decline. One hypothesis for this finding is that statin use can reduce the risk of cerebrovascular disease which may, in turn, reduce the risk of mild cognitive decline and dementia. With numerous patients currently prescribed statins and the likelihood that more patients will be prescribed the medication in the coming years, it is important to review the current literature to determine the association between statin use and cognitive decline, as well as determine how statins may be beneficial in preventing cognitive decline.