For people over the age of 65 who have experienced a concussion, their risk of developing dementia doubles, reports Donald Redelmeier, MD, of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto, co-author of a new study on statins and dementia.
Taking statins within 90 days of a concussion, however, reduced the risk of dementia by 13 percent in older adults, the study, published in JAMA Neurology found.
Statins, Concussions and Dementia Risk: What the Study Found
The observational study analyzed nearly 30,000 people over the age of 65 who had been diagnosed with a concussion between 1993 and 2013. Researchers excluded patients with a prior diagnosis of dementia or delirium.
One-quarter of the people had received a statin within three months of their concussion and the rest had not. Over the course of four years, those who’d taken a statin had a 13% lower risk of dementia compared to those who hadn’t.
Though the benefit of a statin is slight, it is significant, note the researchers. The evidence suggests that statins may help reduce brain inflammation and preserve some cognitive function post-concussion.
Other Medications Did Not Reduce Dementia Risk
While many people in the study had taken other prescription drugs after their concussion, “none of those medications made any difference — they didn’t make things better, they didn’t make things worse — with one exception: being on a statin at the time of the concussion led to about a 10% to 15% reduction in the long-term risk of subsequent dementia,” Redelmeier told Medpage Today. “This was distinct to statins; it was not found with any other lipid-lowering medication or any other cardiovascular medication.”
Statins That Offered the Most Brain Benefits After a Concussion
Deeper analysis found that Rosuvastatin use was associated with the largest risk reduction, and simvastatin use was associated with the smallest risk reduction. Hydrophilic statins were slightly more beneficial than lipophilic statins. Dosage did not correlate with higher or lower benefits, however length of time taken did.
Patients who received a statin before and after the concussion showed the most of the risk reduction. Those who started a statin after the concussion also showed a significant risk reduction. People who discontinued a statin after the concussion showed no significant risk reduction.