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Statins and Memory Loss

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I visited my uncle today. He’s just turned 70 and was asking me what kind of work I’m doing. I told him about Smarter Nootropics, and let him know that I was working on a website about cognitive enhancement and “smart drugs”. He asked me for some advice because he told me that he was having difficulty concentrating, difficulty remembering things, and that he felt kind of foggy. He then showed me the fish oil he was taking and the vitamins. I asked him what else he was taking, and he told me that his doctor had him taking Statins for cholesterol.

I remembered that Farhood had told me that there were issues with Statins and memory loss and recall. I quickly called up Farhood and we spoke with my uncle about talking to his doctor about Statins. Unfortunately, due to his high cholesterol, going off Statins may not be the best thing for him. It did lead me to doing some research on Statins and memory loss, and I discovered some interesting things.

The first is that the FDA has added diabetes and memory loss warnings to all Statin drugs. This happened early this year, in February 2012, according to Reuters (http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE81R1O220120228?irpc=932). These labels are being added to drugs like Lipitor, Crestor, and Zocor. These drugs are good for lowering cholesterol and significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks, but are taken by tens of millions of people. These are one of the biggest sources of money for large pharmaceutical companies, and are hugely popular “wonder drugs”.

Unfortunately, these drugs are reported by large numbers of people to be causative agents in confusion and memory loss. These symptoms typically resolve after people cease using Statins. The FDA has specifically stated that it is labelling this due to huge numbers of people reporting memory loss and confusion anecdotally, and not due to clinical studies that have definitely proven Statins to be the causative agent.

If you have a history of heart disease or are at-risk for a heart attack, and have been prescribed Statins, then please continue taking them. These are drugs that are very important and may save your life. At the same time, if you don’t have a history of heart disease and are able to manage your cholesterol through diet and exercise, then it may be a good idea to talk to your doctor about whether or not Statins are necessary, or if they could be contributing to cognitive decline.

This is not meant to be taken as medical advice, and make sure you talk to a doctor before adjusting or modifying any medications. Statins can definitely be a lifesaving drug.

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2 comments

  1. Dan   •  

    Solid article. Appreciate lack of BS.

  2. Farhood   •  

    Lipids/ Cholesterol are hydrophobic and thus the best building blocks of a boundary layer within an aqueous environment. This is the reason that all cell membranes are made of fats and cholesterol (the cholesterol there to increase rigidity at physiologic temperatures). Anytime the building blocks of cell membranes are messed with, there should, theoretically, be an effect in all cells… I’d assume cellular remodeling happens a lot in the brain, with the formation and maintenance of neuronal connections. This phenomenon being almost impossible to elucidate clinically, as compared to theoretically because of the vast number of events and processes that would need to be studied to get there. Anyway, I hope your uncle’s issues are resolved.

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