A dose of statins limits the increased risk of dementia after a concussion, study finds
- Researchers at the University of Toronto studied 30,000 elderly people who had been diagnosed with concussion
- They found those who received statins after a hit to the head were 13 percent less likely to develop dementia
Suffering a concussion in old age raises the risk of dementia – but a dose of statins could offset it, a new study says.
Researchers at the University of Toronto found elderly people who received the drug after a hit to the head were 13 percent less likely to develop dementia than those who didn’t.
Rosuvastatin, sold under the name Crestor, was the most effective.
The small but statistically significant gap showed huge promise for statins to protect the elderly after a fall
Concussions tend to be mild, and most recover.
But, particularly in older people, it has been linked to an increased risk for dementia.
What’s more, efforts to develop treatments to offset the risk, which worked in animal models, have not worked in humans.
The team at Toronto decided to turn to statins, a widely available, cheap drug that lowers cholesterol and inflammation – two things closely related to dementia.
The observational study looked at 28,815 adults aged 66 and over diagnosed with concussion. Most of them (61.3 percent) were women.
A quarter of them received a statin in the 90 days after a concussion, the rest did not.
The statins included atorvastatin, cerivastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, pitavastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin and simvastatin.
After an average follow-up of four years, one in six or 4,727 patients developed dementia.
Of those taking statins, 37 per 1,000 patients developed dementia per year – which is roughly double the normal rate for this population.
Of those who did not take statins, 43 per 1,000 patients developed dementia – more than double the norm.
The small but statistically significant gap showed huge promise for statins to protect the elderly after a fall.
‘Concussion is often popularized as a problem in athletic youth and tends to be underdiagnosed in older individuals,’ Dr Donald Redelmeier at the University of Toronto said.
‘The results of our study suggest that concussions are a common injury in older adults and indicate that dementia may be a frequent outcome years afterward.
‘Therefore, more efforts to prevent concussions should be encouraged at all ages.
‘Screening for past concussions might also offer new clinical insights for patients diagnosed as having dementia.
‘A potential neuroprotective benefit may also encourage greater medication adherence for patients who are already prescribed a statin.
‘In addition, a concussion should not be interpreted as a reason to stop statins, and a future randomized trial is justified.
‘The long-term neurologic consequences of a concussion are substantial and merit attention.’
The study was published in JAMA Neurology.
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