ASK DRS. OZ & ROIZEN: Statins can help with memory loss

King Features SyndicateDecember 28, 2013 

Q: On your radiomd.com show, “YOU: The Owner’s Manual,” I heard you say statins reduce age-related memory loss, but I read they contribute to memory loss. I’ve been reluctant to take them because Alzheimer’s-type dementia runs in my family. Any guidance would be appreciated.

AMY, K., Westerly, R.I.

A: Although the data aren’t definitive, specific statins that don’t cross the blood-brain barrier, such as rosuvastatin (Crestor) and atorvastatin (Lipitor), along with a heart-, brain- and spirit-friendly lifestyle, can help reduce age-related memory loss.

Statins lower lousy LDL cholesterol and reduce atherosclerosis (plaque-clogged arteries) and bodywide inflammation associated with it. That may protect you from heart disease and from a lack of oxygen and nutrients in the brain that can damage neural circuits.

What you read was that last year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration decided that statin labels should include info that the drugs make some people feel unfocused and fuzzy. However, the FDA also says cognition problems are rare.

To refine info on statins and memory loss, researchers recently compared pravastatin (Pravachol) to atorvastatin (Lipitor). They found rats given atorvastatin had no memory impairment at all. But those given pravastatin were less able to find a food reward or to recognize a previously encountered object; however, their fuzzy thinking went away when the drug was stopped.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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