Statins and cognitive functioning in the elderly: A population-based study

Juliín Benito-León, Elan D. Louis, Saturio Vega, Félix Bermejo-Pareja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


In a 2009 Cochrane review, the authors concluded that there is good evidence that statins, given in late life to people at risk of vascular disease, have no effect in preventing Alzheimer's disease or dementia. A related issue, which remains unclear, is whether statins improve cognitive function. While some studies have shown a beneficial effect of statins on cognitive function, others have observed mild detrimental effects on cognition. Our aim was to assess cognitive function in community-dwelling elderly participants treated with statins compared with their untreated counterparts (i.e., controls) living in the same population. 137 population-dwelling participants who were receiving statins and 411 matched controls age ≥ 65 years (median=72 years) in central Spain (the Neurological Disorders in Central Spain [NEDICES] study) underwent a neuropsychological assessment, including tests of global cognitive performance, frontal-executive function, verbal fluency, and memory. Median duration of statin treatment was 2 years. Of 137 participants receiving statins, 53 (38.7%) were taking pravastatin, 38 (27.7%) simvastatin, 37 (27.0%) lovastatin, 6 (4.4%) fluvastatin, and 3 (2.2%) atorvastatin. Although initial univariate analyses indicated some differences, after adjusting for age, gender, education, depressive symptoms, premorbid intelligence, medications that potentially affect cognitive function, and blood cholesterol levels, statin users and controls performed similarly on all neuropsychological tests. In this population-based sample, elderly participants treated with statins and untreated controls performed similarly in all tested cognitive areas. These results do not support a positive benefit of statins on cognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-102
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive function
  • elderly
  • epidemiology
  • statins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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