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Epidemiological and clinical trials evidence about a preventive role for statins in Alzheimer's disease.

Author information

  • Alzheimer Research, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada. Kenneth.rockwood@dal.ca

Abstract

This paper reviews epidemiological and clinical trials data about whether statin use reduces the risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The available information has come in three waves. The initial, mostly cross-sectional observational reports suggested that statins might prevent dementia. Next, two large clinical trials with cognitive add-on studies showed no benefit and neither did the third wave, again with observational studies. The latter were mostly longitudinal, and were critical of the first studies for not adequately addressing confounding by indication (i.e. that patients with dementia would be denied statins). Most recently, new data from the Canadian Study of Health and Aging have produced a mixed result. While methodological considerations are clearly important in understanding why the reports are so variable, there might also be merit in differentiating between statins, based on their presumed - and variable - mechanisms of action in dementia prevention, before concluding that the initial reports are entirely artefactual. Still, the first reports appear to have overestimated the extent of protection, so that unless there are important effects achievable with specific statins, a more than a modest role for statins in preventing AD seems unlikely.

PMID:
16866914
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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