Massive new study: The statin-memory lapse connection may be unfounded
- A new study conducted by researchers at Rutgers and the University of Pennseylvania suggests that the FDA's 2012 warning linking statins with short-term memory lapses may be unfounded.
- The FDA warning was based on anecdotal reports that statins users were experiencing short-term memory lapses.
- One in six Americans takes statins to lower their cholesterol.
This study, which was published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, was massive and evalauted 482,542 new statin users, compared with an equal number of people who were not taking statins. The researchers found that although more statin users reported short-term memory loss during the 30-day period after taking the first dose when compared with non-statin users, those who took other types of lipid-lowering drugs (LLDs) also experienced short-term memory loss. Since the biological mechanisms of these various medication types are completely different, researchers said it was highly unlikely that there was a drug-specific link.
The takeaway conclusion was not that LLDs in general lead to short-term memory loss, but rather that when people start a new drug, a "detection bias" phenonmenon kicks in—and they notice things they might not have noticed otherwise: In this case, short-term forgetfulness.
While it's not clear that a labeling change will be forthcoming right away, if at all, the takeaway message is that patients who are prescribed statins should track side effects, but continue to take their medication until advised otherwise.