Decreased prevalence of Alzheimer disease associated with 3-hydroxy-3-methyglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors

Arch Neurol. 2000 Oct;57(10):1439-43. doi: 10.1001/archneur.57.10.1439.


Context: Increasing evidence suggests that cholesterol plays a role in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer disease (AD). For instance, an elevated serum cholesterol level has been shown to be a risk factor for AD.

Objective: To determine whether patients taking 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins), which are a group of medicines that inhibit the synthesis of cholesterol, have a lower prevalence of probable AD.

Design: The experiment uses a cross-sectional analysis comparing the prevalence of probable AD in 3 groups of patients from hospital records: the entire population, patients receiving 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (hereafter referred to as the statins), and patients receiving medications used to treat hypertension or cardiovascular disease.

Patients: The subjects studied were those included in the computer databases of 3 different hospitals for the years October 1, 1996, through August 31, 1998.

Main outcome measures: Diagnosis of probable AD.

Results: We find that the prevalence of probable AD in the cohort taking statins during the study interval is 60% to 73% (P < .001) lower than the total patient population or compared with patients taking other medications typically used in the treatment of hypertension or cardiovascular disease.

Conclusions: There is a lower prevalence of diagnosed probable AD in patients taking 2 different 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors-lovastatin and pravastatin. While one cannot infer causative mechanisms based on these data, this study reveals an interesting association in the data, which warrants further study. Arch Neurol. 2000;57:1439-1443

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / blood*
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / drug therapy
  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Lovastatin / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pravastatin / therapeutic use*
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Hypolipidemic Agents
  • Cholesterol
  • Lovastatin
  • Pravastatin