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Statins may influence risk of Alzheimer’s

Risk reduction depends on specific statin and ethnicity and sex of patient

Ingrid Torjesen

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Statins appear to reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s disease but the level of that reduction in risk varies by type of statin and race/ethnicity, suggests an analysis* published in JAMA Neurology.

Researchers at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, analysed claims data from nearly 400,0000 Medicare beneficiaries who used statins to examine the association of statin use and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers examined high and low exposure to the four most commonly prescribed statins: simvastatin, atorvastatin, pravastatin and rosuvastatin.

The results showed that from 2009 to 2013, 1.72% of women and 1.32% of men received a diagnosis of AD annually, and white men had the lowest incident of Alzheimer’s disease (1.23%). The risk of Alzheimer’s disease was reduced for Hispanic men, white women and men, and black women; no significant difference in risk was seen for black men who had high exposure to statins compared with low exposure.

High exposure (at least the 50th percentile of days of filled prescriptions in a given year for at least two years from 2006 through 2008) to statins was associated with a 15% decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease for women and a 12% reduced risk for men.

High exposure to simvastatin was associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease for white, Hispanic and black women, as well as white and Hispanic men. Atorvastatin was associated with reduced Alzheimer’s disease risk among white, black, and Hispanic women and Hispanic men. Pravastatin and rosuvastatin were associated with reduced Alzheimer’s disease risk for white women.

The researchers concluded: "This suggests that certain patients, facing multiple, otherwise equal statin alternatives for hyperlipidemia treatment, may reduce Alzheimer’s disease risk by using a particular statin. The right statin type for the right person at the right time may provide a relatively inexpensive means to less the burden of Alzheimer’s disease."


* Zissimopoulos JM, et al. Sex and Race Differences in the Association Between Statin Use and the Incidence of Alzheimer Disease. JAMA Neurol. Published online December 12, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.3783

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