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Cholesterol-fighting Statins Lower Alzheimer’s Disease Risk: Study

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Common cholesterol-fighting drugs have the potential to reduce Alzheimer's disease risks, researchers have found.

For a study published in the journal JAMA Neurology, researchers worked with male and female Medicare beneficiaries who took statins for at least two years between 2009 and 2013. Subjects were classified as either high or low users, with high users being those who were prescribed statins frequently.

Based on their findings, the researchers saw that male high users had a 12 percent lower incidence of Alzheimer's while female high users recorded a 15 percent reduction in disease incidence.

"We may not need to wait for a cure to make a difference for patients currently at risk of the disease," said Julie Zissimopoulos, the study's lead author.

Statins Versus Alzheimer's

Earlier studies have established a link between cholesterol and beta-amyloid plaque, which is characteristic to Alzheimer's disease. The researchers looked into statins as a possible Alzheimer's disease treatment because they have been widely used and have been proven to reduce cholesterol levels in the body.

For the study, high users were defined as Medicare beneficiaries who took cholesterol-fighting drugs for a minimum of two years from 2006 to 2008. Low users, on the other hand, were beneficiaries who took statins less frequently or only started taking them after 2008. Records were examined between 2009 and 2013 to help the researchers keep track of the disease's onset in the participants.

The researchers focused on four of the most popularly prescribed statins: rosuvastatin, pravastatin, atorvastatin, and simvastatin. Rosuvastatin and pravastatin were particularly effective for white women while atorvastatin was linked to reduced Alzheimer's risks for Hispanic men and women, black women, and white women. As for simvastatin, it was associated with lower disease risks for Hispanic men and women, black women, and white men and women.

Some scientists are of the belief that statins called lipophilics like simvastatin and atorvastatin would be best as preventive Alzheimer's disease treatment because they have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, allowing proximity to the brain for better results.

Urgent Need For Alzheimer's Treatment

Delaying the onset of Alzheimer's disease can not only save lives but also lead to health care savings. In a previous study, Zissimopoulos discovered that delaying Alzheimer's onset by just a year could spare more than 2 million Americans from developing the disease and rake in $220 million in health care savings by 2050.

Hopes were pinned on solanezumab, an experimental drug by Eli Lilly designed to target beta-amyloid plaques, but it failed to produce desired results in a recent clinical trial.

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