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10-06-2010 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Cognitive performance not linked with statin use


Free abstract

MedWire News: A large, cross-sectional study has found no evidence to support an association between statins and cognitive performance.

Statin use was marginally associated with cognitive impairment, but this was no longer the case after adjusting for variables known to affect cognition, the researchers report in the journal Clinical Cardiology.

“What is clearly evident from our analysis is that age ‘drove’ the univariate association of statin use and cognitive function,” say Stephen Glasser (University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA) and colleagues.

“When any other model with age adjustment was used, no association was observed between statin use or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level and cognitive impairment.”

The findings come from 24,595 people taking part in the Reasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study, of whom 7191 were statin users and 17,404 nonusers.

Participants had been enrolled in the US study between January 2003 and October 2008, with oversampling from the southeastern Stroke Belt and among African Americans.

Statin use and type were evaluated in participants’ homes by trained professionals and global cognitive status assessed using the validated instrument Six-Item Screener, with cognitive impairment defined as a score of less than 4.

The initial analysis showed significantly more statin users than nonusers had cognitive impairment, at 8.6% versus 7.7%, respectively.

However, after adjusting for variables known to be associated with cognition, including age, gender, race, income, education level, and cardiovascular disease, this result lost its statistical significance.

No association was observed with cognition according to whether a statin was lipophilic or hydrophilic. Furthermore, there were no regional differences in cognitive impairment among statin users, with 8.0% of participants in the Stroke Belt showing cognitive impairment versus 7.9% in other regions.

The researchers conclude: “When adjusted for variables that have been related to cognitive impairment, we found no association between statin use and cognitive impairment.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Anita Wilkinson