Statins and Memory Loss: The Tradeoff With Anti-Cholesterol Medication

In a recently released advisory notice, the FDA acknowledged a relationship between statins and memory loss, something many patients taking anti-cholesterol drugs and their doctors already knew.  Specifically, the notice advised that “cognitive impairment, such as memory loss, forgetfulness and confusion, has been reported by some statin users”.

Tara Parker-Pope writes in the New York Times Well blog about users of the drugs, the symptoms they’ve experienced, and some ways to remedy, including lowering one’s dosage or replacing statin therapy with exercise and improved diet.

Statins are a class of medicine prescribed to lower cholesterol levels by blocking the action of a chemical in the liver necessary for creating cholesterol.  By reducing cholesterol levels, statins lower the risk of angina, heart attacks and strokes.

Statins are sold under several different brand names, including Lipitol, Crestor, Lescol, Pravachol, Vytorin, and Zocor.  Lipitor was the top-selling prescription drug for several years until 2010; Pfizer lost its exclusive patent on the drug in 2011.

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