Oslo, Norway—While statins are commonly used to lower cholesterol levels to prevent cardiovascular events, they also show benefit in in reducing the risk of mortality in dementia patients.

That’s according to new research presented at the 5th European Academy of Neurology Congress held recently in Oslo, Norway.

The study, led by researchers from the University Medical Center in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, points out that survival in patients with dementia is variable and that while previous studies have identified many factors associated with survival and risk of stroke in those patients, the effect of statins on the two outcomes has not been clear.

The study team sought to analyze the association between the use of statins and risk of death and first ischemic stroke in patients diagnosed with dementia.

To do that, researchers conducted a prospective registry-based cohort study of 44,920 patients registered in the Swedish Dementia Registry (2008-2015). They extracted data on demographic characteristics, comorbidities, medications, mortality, and stroke from the

Swedish Prescribed Drug Registry, Riksstroke, the Swedish National Patient Register, and the Swedish Total Population Register.

The focus was on any association between ever-use of statins in the 3 years before dementia, all-cause mortality, or stroke.

Results indicated that 16,791 ever-users of statins had a lower risk of all-cause death (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] 0.78, 95% CI, 0.74-0.83) compared with the same number of matched nonusers.

“There was a significant effect on risk of stroke (aHR 0.73, 95% CI, 0.64-0.93),” the study authors wrote, adding that stratified analysis showed a protective effect on survival in patients younger than 75 years (aHR 0.73, 95% CI, 0.62-0.86), with vascular dementia (aHR 0.71, 95% CI 0.63-0.80) and in men (aHR 0.74, 95% CI, 0.68-0.81). The study also identified a graded association between cumulative exposure to statins and risk of death.

“Use of statins might be beneficial for survival in patients with dementia, especially in men, younger patients and vascular dementia,” the researchers concluded.

The research demonstrated that statin users had a 23% reduction in the risk of stroke, which is three times more likely in patients with mild dementia and seven times more likely in those with severe dementia.

Statins’ protective effect on survival appeared stronger for patients younger than age 75 years (27% reduction) and in men (26% reduction), but women and older patients also benefited (17% and 20% reduction, respectively). A 29% lower mortality risk also was detected in patients with vascular dementia, the second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease.

“Survival in patients in dementia is variable, and previous studies have identified many factors associated with survival and risk of stroke in these patients,” explained first author Bojana Petek, MD. “However, the effect of statins on these two outcomes is not clear. The aim of this study was to analyze the association between the use of statins on the risk of death and stroke in patients diagnosed with dementia.”

Coauthor Sara Garcia-Ptacek, MD, PhD, said that the results were “encouraging and suggest that patients with dementia benefit from statins to a similar extent than patients without dementia.”

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