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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Apr 15;(2):CD003160. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003160.pub2.

Statins for the prevention of dementia.

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  • 1Department of Geriatric Medicine, Queen's University Belfast, Whitla Medical Building, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast, UK, BT9 7BL. b.mcguinness@qub.ac.uk



This is an update of a Cochrane review first published in 2001. At that stage there was insufficient evidence to recommend statins for the prevention of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The scope of this review has been expanded to include all forms of dementia.


To assess the effects of statins in the prevention of dementia.


The Specialized Register of the Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group, The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL and LILACS were searched on 10 October 2007 using the terms statin*, lovastatin*, pravastatin*, simvastatin*, fluvastatin*, atorvastatin* and rosuvastatin*. The CDCIG Register contains records from many healthcare databases, SIGLE, LILACS as well as many trials databases and is updated regularly.


Double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trials of statins in people at risk of AD and dementia.


Two independent reviewers extracted and assessed data independently and agreement was reached after discussion. Adverse effects were noted.


Two trials were identified with 26,340 participants; HPS 2002 and PROSPER 2002. Age range was 40-82 years across the two studies, PROSPER 2002 included 5804 patients aged 70-82 years and HPS included 20,536 patients with 5806 at least 70 years old at study entry. Mean total cholesterol 5.9 mmol/l, LDL cholesterol 3.4 mmol/l at study entry with mean reduction in LDL cholesterol of 1.0 mmol/l in simvastatin treated patients compared to placebo in HPS 2002. Mean total cholesterol 5.7 mmol/l, LDL cholesterol 3.8 mmol/l at study entry with mean reduction in LDL cholesterol of 1.02 mmol/l in pravastatin treated patients compared to placebo in PROSPER 2002. Mean follow-up 3.2 years in PROSPER, 5 years in HPS 2002. Cognition was measured at different times and with different scales so could not be combined in a meta-analysis. There was no difference in incidence of dementia in HPS 2002 (31 cases in simvastatin group, 31 cases in placebo group) nor in performance on the modified Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status at final follow-up (23.7% simvastatin group cognitively impaired vs 24.2% in placebo group). There was no difference in cognition between groups either in relation to age at study entry or previous history of cerebrovascular disease. Cognitive function declined at the same rate in both treatment groups in PROSPER 2002, there was no significant difference between pravastatin treated and placebo groups in performance on letter digit codes, picture word learning test, Stroop and Mini Mental State Examination. There was no evidence that statins were detrimental to cognition.


There is good evidence from RCTs that statins given in late life to individuals at risk of vascular disease have no effect in preventing AD or dementia. Biologically it seems feasible that statins could prevent dementia due to their role in cholesterol reduction and initial evidence from observational studies was very promising. Indication bias may have been a factor in these studies however and the evidence from subsequent RCTs has been negative.

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