Statins and Memory

Statins and Memory

Author: Melania Tesio

Patients suffering from high levels of cholesterol are at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase inhibitors, also known as statins, are the treatment of choice for these patients because they effectively decrease their cholesterol levels and they are generally well tolerated. According to a new study, however, long term use of pravastatin (pictured), a natural and commonly prescribed statin, impairs cognitive functions.

Sarah Stuart and colleagues, University of Bristol, UK, demonstrated that when pravastatin was administered for a long period of time to rats, it reversibly decreased their memory and learning capacity. These side effects seemed not to be a feature of all statins but rather linked to the particular chemical and pharmacokinetic properties of pravastatin. When rats were treated with artovastatin, a synthetic statin having a different pharmacokinetic profile than pravastatin, cognitive side effects were not observed.

Caution should thus be taken when choosing a statin treatment.

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