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Are Cholesterol Drugs Linked to Memory Problems?

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Q. When I was 54, I was put on Crestor, then Lipitor to lower cholesterol. Within weeks I could not finish my sentences. It was awful; you don't have to be OLD to have dementia symptoms caused by medication.

I started to suspect the Lipitor and stopped taking it. I got better, but when I started back on it at my doctor's insistence, I was right back where I'd been before. I had such short-term memory problems that I couldn't finish my sentences properly. I also ached all over, right down to my bones. I finally quit taking it and am doing fine.

A. We've been hearing about word scramble and memory problems related to statins for over a decade. This issue remains controversial, but there are reports like yours cropping up in the medical literature (Pharmacotherapy, July, 2009).

There are many ways to lower blood lipids without statins so we are sending you our Guide to Cholesterol Control and Heart Health for more details.

Muscle pain and weakness are recognized statin side effects. Many people find they are not able to tolerate these complications.

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re: the posted comments about LIPITOR and memory problems; that could have been me! and I sounded a lot like me!!! Even my family doctor can not tolerate Lipitor nor any other statins.

I had similar problems with Lipitor. It took a couple of years, but I started "losing" nouns, and sentences without nouns leave your conversation somewhat confusing. Fortunately my doctor connected the problem to Lipitor and suggested I stop taking it. My cholesterol became very elevated again. So we tried other drugs such as Crestor, and another problem presented. My breathing became so labored that I could not complete simple household tasks. I told my doctor that I had to stop taking these drugs. Life with them was impossible and if high cholesterol killed me, so be it.

He then suggested a VERY low carbohydrate diet. After one year, the cholesterol numbers were reasonable and triglyceride was wonderful. Memory and breathing problems have slowly gotten better, but neither are back to levels before taking meds. Warnings on packaging or from doctors might be able to alleviate some of these problems if patients recognized the connection earlier and were therefore removed from the drugs earlier. I was lucky that my doctor saw the connection; I was unlucky that I didn't talk with him sooner.

My mother was put on Vytorin (a statin drug) shortly after a stroke, even though her Total Cholesterol was typically around 180. After 6 months, she started having episodes of amnesia, so I went online and looked up each drug they had put her on. I found a lot of educational information on statins that was written by Duane Graveline, MD, a NASA astronaut.

He experienced the same transient amnesia problem and eventually wrote books about this not-so-well-discussed problem. The brain synapses need cholesterol to function, but many doctors don't account for this and will put people on a statin drug for life. The majority of people who discontinue the statin drug find that their memory returns, but in a small percentage, the short-term memory damage is permanent, which is the unfortunate case for my mother.

You were correct in assuming that the Statin was the problem, Read "Lipitor, Thief of Memory" by Dr. Duane Graveline for much more detailed data about statins and memory problems. Statin Drug inserts now list Memory problems as a potential effect....


Some years ago, my Doctor said my cholesterol count was high, and he gave me LIPITOR. Well, in a short time my muscles were giving me a lot of pain.

Of course I stopped taking LIPITOR. My doctor wanted to give me other STATIN DRUGS. I said to my doctor, NO THANKS and I watched my diet, etc.


This sounded like my comments and situation because it WAS my comments. I found and read the article sent me and I thank you both. (Your website is a life saver. Absolutely.!!!! Thank y'all a bunch.)

Red Yeast Rice gives me a slight memory problem. Just wonder if reducing cholesterol in the brain is part of the problem.

Again, thank you for your website and information. Your info proves so many things I, and others, have thought for years, like generic drugs just do not work as well! I am one of thousands that think that.

Keep up the great work!! I love you !

A good alternate for statins is niaspan 1000 mg per day. Have been on it for 9 years. I have not forgotten anything, but how would I know if I did?


I had similar problems with Mevacor. An avid reader, I found that while on the drug I could barely finish a paragraph or retain the information. As I have genetic cholesterol problems, I really do need to take a statin and now I'm on 80 mg of Lipitor and have been for many years. I don't seem to have a problem with it.

In reply to MMH, I too went on a very low carb and vegan diet. It's not easy to do. I was able to eliminate another cholesterol med I was taking (Welchol), but I still have to take the Lipitor. With the 80 mg and very low carb vegan diet, my stats are, for the first time, in the normal range. I tried to cut the Lipitor to 40mg, but my level went way up again.

My father had the same problem as do my sisters. I am female, 66 years old, very slim, and feel very healthy. But I do worry about taking such a high level of the drug.

I am so glad I read this---- I was put on Simavastatin then Simcor and I know I was absolutely losing my short term memory.

I stopped taking the Simcor any any satins because the only thing wrong with my cholesterol was that my HDL was 5 points low from the recommended range & I told the doctor I will live with the low 5 points rather than risk the hazards of satins.

There was a time I could remember and memorize anything-- music, I had every credit card number (a lot) and account number in my head as well as all of my job information. Now I can barely remember my name. I can't finish sentences, I forget where I'm going, I don't remember one day from the next, I can't remember people, names of things, etc. It is as if someone opened a valve and just let everything out.

I suspect it is the prescriptions I take. I have told my doctor about this but he dismisses my concerns. I will run this by my other doctors and pharmacist again and see what they say. I am on a statin and blood pressure medication, among other things. All of this is very disconcerting to me.

I read your "People's Pharmacy" report in today's Orlando Sentinel concerning the use of Lipitor or any statin drug. You say that statins are "controversial". Just read Duane Graveline's well documented book, Lipitor, Thief of Memory.

Dr. Graveline, an M.D, NASA Flight Surgeon and TGA patient, and I all experienced Statin problems causing memory deficits. If TGA patients had sufficient dollars to publish the maladies from Lipitor as Lipitor does propagandizing their products, the public would be better off.

Please read his book and report the truth in your follow-up column about statins. How about publicizing an alternative anti-cholesterol drug, like Welchol, a non-statin medicine.


I too have found that I now have difficulty finding correct words and completing sentences after being on Lipitor 10mg for 5 years. I am very active- walk average of 5-6 miles daily. Do not smoke, no other factors : diabetes, heart disease. Father did sustain a devastating stroke but had a history of obesity, high blood pressure and smoking and high stress (caring for 3 family members with cancer ) -
I too feel that I can no longer contend with short term memory difficulties.

I am going to take Dr. Graveline's article- book with me to share with MD at next annual physical in the meantime I am stopping the Lipitor and am continuing with Niacin 1000 mg.

I am so relieved to learn that there are others speaking up/reporting problems with memory.

I have been taking statins for almost 20 years. The first one I took was Mevicor and I found that I couldn't read anything that took any thought or read for any length of time. I am now on Lipitor and have some word retrieval problems but at least I can read a book. I have hereditary cholesterol problems that are not affected by diet, exercise, etc.

I am a 67 year old female with a BMI of 19.5, non smoker, vegan, I eat no processed or starchy foods, no sugars except in fruit, exercise regularly, and without Lipitor my cholesterol is in the 500s with HDL around 40. When I take the 80 mg that I am prescribed my total cholesterol is a little below 200 with an HDL of 75. I have tried many other drugs, including high doses of niacin, and none have helped. I have recently been cutting my pills in half as I am concerned with other health issues and wonder if they may be related to the very high doses of Lipitor.

This brings my total to about 220 with HDL of 65. I feel that I can live with that (my doctor doesn't agree however). I really do need to take this medicine as heart disease runs in both sides of my family. My sisters have the same problems and the same meds. At this time I feel that it is better to put up with some memory problems and not have to constantly worry about heart attack or stroke.

My husband is now in a memory care facility. I strongly believe it was the Lipitor that put him there. His symptoms are not like Alzheimer's exactly nor are they like Pikes Disease or FTD, Frontal Temporel Dementia. I remember at the time I had heard about the memory thing on one of the news investigation programs. I took him off of them right then and they put him on Crestor and things just kept getting worse.

Of course the Drs poopoo it away. My Dr. Just started me on it even tho I protested, making me feel like I would drop dead or have a heart attach right there. I took it for about two weeks and I could feel the confusion & the inability to form the right words. Probably not related, but I lost my wedding ring that I have worn for 23 years! I will take my chances with other mean, but I will NEVER take Lipitor again!!

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