Cognitive Effects of Statins Interview with:
Dr. Seth S. Martin, MD
Division of Cardiology, Johns Hopkins Hospital
600 North Wolfe Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21287
Johns Hopkins Hospital
Baltimore, MD 21287. What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Martin: Our systematic review identified 16 studies for qualitative synthesis and 11 for quantitative synthesis. In individuals without baseline cognitive dysfunction, statins did not adversely affect memory when used in the short-term (<1 year). Long-term cognition studies including 23,433 patients with a mean exposure duration of 3 to 24.9 years showed a 29% relative reduction in incident dementia related to statin use (hazard ratio, 0.71; 95% CI 0.61-0.82) and a 2% absolute risk reduction (number needed to treat for 6.2 years: 50). Were any of the findings unexpected

Dr. Martin: No, there is good biological plausibility for the findings. It is well-known that statins have favorable effects on arteries to reduce or stabilize atherosclerotic plaque. We know that statins prevent strokes. Therefore, it makes sense that statins would prevent vascular dementia when taken in the long-term. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report

Dr. Martin: Clinicians and patients should take away a generally reassuring message from our report. In patients without baseline cognitive dysfunction, our careful and rigorous systematic review was most compatible with no adverse effects of statins in the short-term, while in the long-term there was evidence for protection from dementia. Therefore, clinicians and patients can be reassured that in the vast majority of people, statins are good for the brain. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Martin: First and foremost, future research in this area should must use a clear taxonomy of short- versus long-term effects as established in our study, establish protocols a priori, and focus on objective and clinically relevant outcome measures. It will be important for future studies to carefully examine special populations of people, such as the elderly, who may be particularly vulnerable to side effects from statins or other medications. Future studies should evaluate whether there are any differential effects on cognition based on the lipophilicity and intensity of LDL-C lowering related to statin therapy.


Swiger JK, et al “Statins and cognition: a systematic review and meta-analysis of short- and long-term cognitive effects” Mayo Clin Proceed 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2013.07.013.


Last Updated on April 19, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD