Statin therapy and risk of dementia in the elderly: a community-based prospective cohort study

Neurology. 2004 Nov 9;63(9):1624-8. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000142963.90204.58.


Objective: To assess the association between statin therapy and risk of Alzheimer disease (AD) in a prospective cohort study with documented statin exposure and incident dementia.

Methods: This is a prospective, cohort study of statin use and incident dementia and probable AD. A cohort of 2,356 cognitively intact persons, aged 65 and older, were randomly selected from a health maintenance organization (HMO), and were assessed biennially for dementia. Statin use was identified using the HMO pharmacy database. A proportional hazards model with statin use as a time-dependent covariate was used to assess the statin-dementia/AD association.

Results: Among 312 participants with incident dementia, 168 had probable AD. The unadjusted hazard ratios (HRs) with statin use were 1.33 (95% CI 0.95 to 1.85) for all-cause dementia and 0.90 (CI 0.54 to 1.51) for probable AD. Adjusted corresponding HRs were 1.19 (CI 0.82 to 1.75) and 0.82 (CI 0.46 to 1.46). A subgroup analysis of participants with at least one APOE-epsilon4 allele who entered the study before age 80 produced an adjusted HR of 0.33 (CI 0.10 to 1.04).

Conclusion: Employing time-dependent proportional hazards modeling, the authors found no significant association between statin use and incident dementia or probable AD. In contrast, when the data were analyzed, inappropriately, as a case-control study, the authors found an OR of 0.55 for probable AD, falsely indicating a protective effect of statins. Study design and analytic methods may explain the discrepancy between the current null findings and earlier findings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Databases, Factual
  • Dementia / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors