Perspective Needed on Memory Loss Reports

Experts weigh in on studies about statins

Medication bottle in cabinet

Many people wonder if statins can make them lose their memory. The media recently reported that the FDA has added “memory loss” to the list of possible side effects of statins, and accompanied their reports with anecdotes about individual statin-users who believed their memory loss might be associated with the drug. But should you worry? Not according to experts like Steven Nissen, MD, chair of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic. The New York Times, reported that Dr. Nissen “noted that cognitive side effects have not been detected in randomized controlled trials of statin therapy. And even the warnings about muscle aches and diabetes need to be weighed against the fact that the drugs are proven to lower risk for heart attack and stroke.” Dr. Nissen and others remind statin users that all medications have possible side effects. Stanley Hazen, MD, PhD, head of Preventive Cardiology at Cleveland Clinic, says, “Randomized clinical trials examining statin usage in dementia, or pre-dementia show — if anything — a significant protective effect. That does not mean that some people, still on an individual basis, may note memory issues on statins. We see this, or patients complain of this, on rare occasions, and if it happens, we adjust regimen for lipid lowering accordingly.”

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TBE’s expert advisors agree that you should not stop taking your statins. If you are concerned, have a discussion with your doctor. Most patients tolerate statins without side effects and enjoy the benefits of good heart health. If you are having symptoms, your doctor will adjust your dose or change your medication. Dr. Nissen again and again emphasizes that the warnings related to statins need to be weighed against the fact that statins really do decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke.

As Dr. Hazen says, “Statins still are the single most effective interventions for preventing cardiovascular disease, and saving lives.”

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