The People's Perspective on Medicine

Do Statins Affect Memory or Scramble Your Brain?

Tens of millions of people take a statin-type medication every day to prevent cardiovascular problems. Can statins affect memory? This question remains highly controversial after decades.

The top four statin-type cholesterol-lowering medications are atorvastatin, simvastatin, pravastatin and rosuvastatin. Our back of the envelope calculations suggest that over 200 million prescriptions were dispensed to over 40 million Americans last year. Can statins affect memory? Most health professionals say absolutely not. But many readers continue to wonder. Here is the most recent such question:

Q. I read somewhere about a statin that is not fat-soluble and doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier. Unfortunately, I forgot the name. I am currently taking simvastatin and have noticed a decline in my memory. Can you help me?

Could Statins Affect Memory?

A. Physicians have been debating the relationship between statins and cognitive function for decades. The FDA requires this statement for simvastatin:

“There have been rare postmarketing reports of cognitive impairment (e.g., memory loss, forgetfulness, amnesia, memory impairment, confusion) associated with statin use. These cognitive issues have been reported for all statins.”

How Do Clinical Trials Answer the Question: Do Statins Affect Memory?

Clinical trials have not demonstrated memory impairment due to statins (Journal of General Internal Medicine, March, 2015). The authors conclude:

“Statin therapy was not associated with cognitive impairment in RCTs [randomized controlled trials]. These results raise questions regarding the continued merit of the FDA warning about potential adverse effects of statins on cognition.”

A Contrary Perspective:

Despite this, published case reports link cognitive and psychiatric problems to statins (Pharmacotherapy, July, 2009; Drug Safety Case Reports, Dec., 2016; World Journal of Diabetes, June 15, 2017).

The authors of the last article on diabetes and statins introduce their research this way:

“Whether statins negatively affect cognitive function remains under dispute. Goldstein and Mascitelli (2014) propose that statins may negatively affect the brain and cognitive health, potentially via impaired myelination. Additionally, cell culture and animal studies show that statins exert neurotoxic effects. Four recent meta-analyses/reviews, however, found no significant relationship between statin use and cognitive impairment.”

Here is what they discovered in their research:

“This study analyzed correlations between statin use and cognitive impairment in a sub-group of participants with T1D [childhood-onset type 1 diabetes] from the on-going, observational Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications Study. These now middle-aged adults were diagnosed with T1D prior to age 18 years, and have reported medication use biennially since the parent study baseline in 1986. Among the 108 participants with a cognitive assessment in 2010-2013, using statins more than tripled the odds of having cognitive impairment discernible by middle age. As duration of statin use increased (never, 1-6 years, 7-12 years), an increasing percentage of participants met the study definition of cognitive impairment (14%, 32% and 47%, respectively), independent of age or education.”

The authors noted that their results contradict the results of one other study that did not report such an association. They did find that statin use was linked to “poor performance of memory tasks.”

Canaries in the Coal Mine?

In a sense, people living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) since childhood are like canaries in the coal mines. They are more vulnerable to complications of this metabolic disorder. If statins affect memory, people with T1D may be more likely to experience such symptoms earlier in life than other individuals.

The authors’ conclusions from their relatively small study:

“Statin use was associated with cognitive impairment, particularly affecting memory, in these middle-aged adults with childhood-onset T1D, whom at this age, should not yet manifest age-related memory deficits.”

Statins and Memory Problems: An Old Question

We published this question in our March 12, 2001 syndicated newspaper column. The physician who contacted us was Duane Graveline:

Q. I am a retired family doctor and former astronaut (www.spacedoc.net). Two years ago at my annual astronaut physical at Johnson Space Center (JSC) I was started on Lipitor. Six weeks later I experienced my first episode of total global amnesia lasting six hours. They couldn’t find anything wrong with me so I suspected Lipitor and discontinued it.

Other doctors and pharmacists did not seem to be aware of similar problems. Believing it must have been a simple coincidence, I decided a year later to restart Lipitor. Six weeks later I was brought to the ER with a twelve-hour episode of total global amnesia. I am more convinced than ever of a Lipitor relationship.

Do you have any information on other people who may have had such an experience? I have my astronaut physical again in a few weeks and would like to tell the doctors about this if you have any data. This drug is in common use at JSC and for all I know other astronauts may be on it as part of their enthusiasm for preventive medicine.

Our Response to Dr. Graveline:

A. Total global amnesia seems to be rare, but one person told us that Lipitor resulted in “big ugly holes burned through my memory.” According to Beatrice Golomb, M.D., Ph.D., Principal Investigator of the Statin Study at the University of California, San Diego:

“We have received dozens of reports from people citing significant memory problems with Lipitor that seem to resolve with discontinuation. Some are from older people who have gone from very bright and verbal to not recalling the names of their children or grandchildren, in short order; and others are from younger people who have rather abruptly developed memory problems. Several have gone so far as to get work-ups for early Alzheimer’s in their 40s or early 50s, only to find that the problems resolved when they discontinued statin drugs.”

 

Over the last decade or two we have received hundreds of reports from readers of our newspaper column and visitors to this website. Here is just one of many articles:

Can Statins Cause Memory Loss and Transient Global Amnesia?

The People’s Pharmacy Perspective:

The controversial question: Do Statins Affect Memory? remains unresolved to this day. We cannot disagree with researchers and physicians who say that it did not show up in the randomized controlled trials carried out by drug companies. That said, there may be susceptible individuals out there who are especially sensitive to statin side effects. We suspect that people who develop severe muscle pain and weakness when taking statins might also be vulnerable to cognitive complications.

Until this controversy is resolved, some experts recommend switching to a less fat-soluble statin, such as pravastatin or rosuvastatin (Canadian Pharmacists Journal, May, 2015).  You can learn more about other ways to lower cholesterol in our Guide to Cholesterol Control and Heart Health.

No one should ever stop any prescription medication without careful conversations with the prescribing physician. Most people do not appear to experience noticeable cognitive decline or memory problems while taking standard doses of statins. Others, however, may be affected in subtle or profound ways.

We would love to learn about your statin experience. Have you noticed any statin side effects? Share your statin story (positive or negative) in the comment section below.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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My husband is only 57 and is having major memory problems. He was started on a statin in July 2017, and I first started noticing memory problems in August 2017. Now it is almost 2 years later, and he is having major memory problems. I just stopped his statin with the O.K. from his doctor 3 days ago. Can anyone let me know how much time passed after stopping the medication and seeing any improvement????

I have been on Atorvastatin 6 wks now. My job entails acute attention to detail, as I assist individuals in completing applications for Medicare plans. These enrollments are also contracts, and must be accurate in all aspects. My work has always been exemplary. However, for the past month and a half, I have made several mistakes a week–mistakes of which I was unaware and did not catch on review of applications. I have felt increasingly incompetent and inadequate and have been considering quitting my job, attributing the issue to my aging brain. (I am 65.) It struck me today that this problem began occurring since I started taking Atorvastatin.

In conversation with my husband, he acknowledged that he has noticed a difference in my functioning. Though he “could not put a finger on it,” I have not been as sharp as he has always known me to be. He attributed it to getting older but noted the onset was relatively acute. How have I felt? Perhaps a little fuzzy and definitely not sharp! At this point, I am stopping this drug. I go to see my doctor tomorrow to let her know. I should also say that I am rather medication-sensitive, and my mother was acutely so. I wish someone could give me feedback on this.

I began statins in about 2003, give or take. I was on one that caused my knees to hurt extremely badly. Then I stopped that brand. I’m not sure what it was but my knees got better. Then I was on lovastatin after that until maybe 2010. My cholesterol was up, so the Dr changed me to LIPITOR. Since then I’ve gone up in dosages. Since about 2015 I’ve been getting brain fog and have trouble remembering things and trouble finding words. My Dr now recommended I stop taking the LIPITOR for 30 days to see if I get better. Hoping for the best!

I took prevastatin for 8 weeks, (only 10 mg a day). After week 6 I couldn’t remember names or nouns. My eyes seemed not to be able to remember that I saw something 30 seconds earlier. I have been off the drug for 1 week, and my memory hasn’t gotten any better. I’m waiting for the condition to clear up. It seems, after reading these comments, that it probably will. Fingers crossed.

Have been taking sinvastatin for several years. Noticed lately I have episodes of forgetfulness,confusion, memory loss and foggy brain. A couple of times while driving to work(a road that I was used for 15 yrs) suddenly got completely lost.Did no recognized the area at all. My doctor said there is no reports of statins causing the problem.I stopped taking the pills and try to flush it out of my system.A week later was normal again. Push by my doctor used again and got the same problem. Pharmacist denied any relation between the statins and cognitive problems.What is going on? i know I am not crazy.

I will be 80 years old on May 1, 2018 and have been in good health all of my life. I retired from the United States Air Force in October, 1978. I have been active all of my life and love all kinds of sports, especially tennis. I am still active in the Senior Olympics every year and still run the 100 and 200 meters on the track fields.
Yesterday my primary doctors told me that my lab results indicated that I have high cholesterol and low Vitamin D. I will not take any Statin medication that he will prescribe for me and will go on eating health foods and all natural good foods that I have been eating all of my life. I really don’t believe the lab results and will continue my daily routine of exercising and watching my diet with only nutritional foods. Thank you.

I am taking Red Yeast Rice instead of prescription Statins. I took Atorvastatin for about 6 months and had hip pain. A blood test showed muscle enzymes, indicating muscle damage. My question is: Is Red yeast rice derived from statins and does it cause the same side effects.

I am a person that experienced side effects. Total time on Atorvastatin was 1.5 yrs. I had muscle pain in calves and deep, specific muscle fiber loss in shoulders. Urinated muscle, which looked like blood. Gamma enzymes high in liver with liver pain.

My muscle, kidney and liver problems pale in comparison to my mental problems. I have full blown dementia that does not conform to natural disease perimeters. I am very aware of my decline. I was a counselor and knew upon the onset that I was experiencing a serious problem. I took extensive notes along the way and have been able to identify the problem was in fact atorvastatin. What I found is proof of demylenation in my brain through MRI’s.

After one year cessation of Atorvastatin, I still cannot sense time or date. I am often very confused. I have double vertical vision of red and yellow lights and I have tremors. The confusion could be compared to grogginess, whereas a person makes mistakes in the simplest things, such as looking in the freezer for coffee cups, adding salt to coffee instead of sugar, etc.

Where healthy people “wake up” fully and go about their day, I am stuck in this constant state 24/7. I can describe this also as, metaphorically, a healthy fruit tree in summer months full of leaves and fruit resembling my thought process mapping before, and now, a stark, bare fruit tree in winter months. I know the difference is mainly in recall causing amnesia symptoms. I can recall something later where I should have known before, so I know there is knowledge imprinted but I don’t think my mind has the ability to access “where” the knowledge was imprinted. This causes a cascade of effects, such as feeling remote, abstract consciousness, inability to put knowledge into action and constantly talking in circles because I have an inability to think linear.

When I muscle through my mind actually derails and I lose awareness of what I was talking about mid sentence. This and much, much more. I do have extensive notes. Writing is a strength because I am/was an author and I can read what I am saying to retain linear.

I never had a heart attack but I had a widowmaker. I was stented and put on atorvastatin. I am 49 years old and I was very intelligent, whereas now, I cannot care for myself. I did improve from 20% functioning to 40% functioning. A year off statins, I am still at 30 – 40% functioning. I graph this every day since the onset.

At this time I am stable but my symptoms appear to be permanent. Specifically, this would be static toxic encephalopathy, or, metabolic encephalopathy. I was able to discover this because my case was presented to a panel of 70 psychiatrists at University of Washington. My symptoms are much more complex than I am relating here but what I have provided gives a perspective of the severity. I am more than willing to share my notes, graphs and finding, along with objective evidence to help understand why this medicine is effecting people like me. Thank you

I have been taking a low dose (10mg.) simvastatin for approximately 20 years as I have a family history (both parents) of very high cholesterol and triglycerides. Twice I have experienced bouts of transient global amnesia, both about six hours. The second time I was on a ladder when it hit and I fell off the ladder and fractured my pelvis. I am 82 now and while my general (long term) memory is OK for my age, my short term (I’m talking seconds) memory is terrible. Also I cannot find words although I am an insatiable reader. I am thinking of stopping simvastatin gradually and see what happens. Fish oil has never shown any improvement in my condition nor have the other supplements I usually take. I am planning to research the red rice yeast thing and other suggestions. Wish me luck.

In the early 2000’s, my dad started to immediately experience word retrieval problems after starting a statin. His word retrieval was so severe that he told me he didn’t want to talk to people. His cardiologist took him off the statin and his word retrieval was restored within a week.

My own experience with Lipitor mirrors many of those who have commented here. I ended up after only a month with total global amnesia, a term I only discovered after experiencing the frightening symptoms. It culminated in an event where I felt a bit headachey and then tried to answer some basic questions from a customer who came into my shop. I thought I must be having a stroke, I could not recall colours, products, numbers etc that I had used daily for many years.

After quick research it was clear the culprit was Lipitor. I stopped the pills and soon regained my mental faculties. I would urge anyone taking a statin to consider carefully these testimonies.

I have had high cholesterol for many years, I also have high unstable blood pressure due to a congenital heart defect (bicuspid aortic valve). I take Losartan and Doxazosin which keep my BP normal so I’m not just anti drugs. I tried many natural alternatives first though.

A CT scan on my heart a few years ago measured the calcium levels as zero, that’s zero risk of plaque formation, despite high cholesterol. Take control of your health, don’t blindly follow everything the doctors say. Try alternatives. E.g. I study martial arts, Tai Chi, meditation, essential oils, supplements, herbs, and intermittent fasting with excellent results. Blessings and good health to you!

My husband took Lipitor and then Lovastatin for a total of eighteen years. After about fifteen years, he began to have memory problems. Names escaped him and he became repetitive in his conversation. He eventually began to drop off in the middle of sentences.

Another three years passed before we finally made the connection to the statin he was taking. He had also suffered dramatic muscle loss by then. Our doctor diagnosed early onset Alzheimer’s.

Three years off the statins, he has recovered his ability to carry on a conversation and regained much of his muscle mass. I definitely believe the statins were responsible for the damage my husband experienced. I also disagree with the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, as my husband is improving. You can read more of our story here: https://toniumbarger.wordpress.com/2016/08/11/a-statin-drug-induced-nightmare/

I’m going to keep screaming this to prevent others from going through what my mom went through. Doc put her on Crestor. She was on it for years, and developed total dementia. She didn’t even realize when her husband died in the bed next to her, nor did she ever realize he was gone. She also lost the use of legs, and developed diabetes. Statins are poison and this obsession with cholesterol levels is crazy.

Please take a look at another “marginal”, doctor denied impact of statins.

Within six months I ruptured two tendons in my right arm and finally ruptured (complete) my right quadriceps tendon (I am right handed).

The orthopedics clinic I had gone t for 15 years misdiagnosed me with tendinitis. After my quad rupture I went to the best local ER I could find..they had done both my knee replacements. I trusted them. The ER doctor discharged me to acute re-hab for a sprained knee. Only after changing orthopedic clinic following two week of rehab that did me more harm than good was I correctly diagnosed and so far the repair is holding. According to the literature I found statins are a risk factor for tendinosis, I ave others as well.

My cardiologist repeated the mantra “statins are likely the most studied drug of all time. They can’t be a problem”.

I’ve gotten the doctor to keep me on the lowest dose of the “cleanest” statin, rosuvastatin. I find that the brain fogginess less than others I’d taken.
It’s much less than the others I’d taken. My numbers over the two or more years on it are good so will probably keep going with this regimen for now.

Four years ago in April, I started getting coughs, hoarseness, throat clearing and severe digestive problems. I went to a pulmonologist, ENT physician, and a gastroenterologist. Over the years they could not answer my problems. I had been treated for COPD and took a steroid medicine for awhile. I was on GERD medicines also. Last January I had a scope put down my throat and nothing could be found to cause my problems. I even had a colonoscopy for my digestive problem.

Finally, I was at my cardiologist last month and thought what have I got to lose, and told him my problems. He immediately told me to stop the Simvastatin cold turkey. With in a week all of my problems disappeared. He had not put me on the drug, but my primary doctor had, back in April of 2014.

Now that I have read this article, I also realized I had noticeably been forgetful over the last few years also. But now I am aware my memory is also much better. Thank you for this information.

I believe every word of what you’ve said is true.

My friend’s doctor told him to reduce his carbs and up his healthy fats too. He recommended supplementing with Amla instead of using statins! I read some Amla study results on nutritionfacts .org that were VERY impressive Amla head-to-head against a statin; look it up if you want good clinical study results that are peer reviewed etc. My friend’s total cholesterol was 220 at last check. I will update this post after his next lipid profile lab results are in.

Ten years ago I took Simvastatin when I found my cholesterol had spiked for some unknown reason. Around a year later at a political meeting my brain was so fogged I could not make a sentence and could not come up with common words to express myself. I shut up and went home to research what was then coming out about the possible effects of statins on brain function. Simvastatin was listed as one in the category of most effecting memory etc. I changed to Pravastatin and it seemed to be better.

Then I got my cholesterol back into control and went off all statins. Brain seemed to return to normal for a 65+ year old. Then a year ago I had a non-cancerous thyroid tumor removed and then had a pace-maker put in for an electrical problem in my heart. I’ve been taking new thyroid & heart drugs since which suddenly raised my cholesterol again. Back on Simvastatin. I began experiencing severe muscle pain to the point that I stopped taking statins again and with ‘Cholestoff’ and severe diet changes have lowered my cholesterol. My good cholesterol was always great…

There is NO MISTAKE in my mind that statins were the cause of brain fog/memory problems as well as muscle pain – which continues. I do not care what the drug companies say, I know these are real side-effects of statins. I’m a very active, healthy 73 year old and know there was an effect form taking these drugs.

When my doctor insisted I start taking statins due to family history of heart disease, I developed, leg cramps and muscle weakness, balance problems (forcing me to use a cane), and intense pain down to my fingertips. Legs would give out suddenly without warning, causing me to fall down steps three times. I could not climb steps very well, either.

Dr switched me from one brand of statin to another, to another, about four times or more. Did not help. Pain and weakness intensified. Could not walk without assistance. Doctor finally agreed to take me off statins when my husband pushed me into the office in a wheelchair.

Muscle pain immediately subsided. But it took me over a year to be able to walk without a cane. I am on ezetimibe and fenofibrate, which my doctor assured me are not statins, but now, after reading these articles, I’m beginning to wonder if they have side effects too. I have metabolic syndrome, (low thyroid, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity), osteoarthritis, gout, and kidney disease (as a result of high doses of ibuprofen prescribed to offset pain caused by statins). All except thyroid dysfunction were not diagnosed until after I turned 50.

I still have trouble finding the right words, and losing my train of thought mid sentence, but not sure if this is due to statin use, artificial sweeteners, or age. This is why I’m concerned about ezetmibe and fenofibrate. Are they statins or not?

I was on Lipitor for 2-3 years with no apparent side effects, until I started “losing” nouns. It became so bad that my husband had to translate for me. I retained memory of pronouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs and he could usually figure out what I was trying to say. We scheduled a doctor’s visit to discuss Alzheimer’s. Fortunately, we had a doctor who immediately recognized the effects of Lipitor and took me off the drug.

As a result, my word recall gradually came back, but my cholesterol crept up and my doctor decided to try other statins. The last straw was Crestor when I became so fatigued that sweeping the kitchen was too difficult and I had to rest for 15 minutes to “catch my breath.” I felt so bad that I told my doctor that I could no longer take statins even if it shortened my life. He said diet — either no fats or no carbs. I chose no carbs. Within a year my cholesterol had dropped into a safe range.

A very low carb diet is hard to maintain, and I must admit that I’ve had some bad months (and years?) since my initial success. Then it’s necessary to diet again. I also add garlic and B3 (niacin) after a particularly bad test. My current doctor (we moved out-of-state) thinks this is a rather silly idea and refuses to test for cholesterol more frequently than semi-annually. It would be encouraging to get feedback more often. It’s as if you were trying to lose weight but could weigh yourself only once a year and were not allowed to measure your waist size!

The upside is that 15 years later I’m a healthy, active old gray-hair!

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/788004

I would not take fenofibrate. It is useless. Read the above link. Ezetimibe too has not been found to decrease mortality in heart disease. Besides, it has side effects of muscle weakness, etc. None of these are necessary for people over 75 years. They have not been studied in older adults, and the risks are greater than the benefits. Eat healthy, and say a Rosary daily!

I recently had surgery to bypass a blocked subclavian artery. Prior to surgery I had become so weak, I was fairly sedentary for close to three months and was unable to correctly walk. Had been shuffling for months, and “furniture surfing” for safety. Point here is accumulated weakness. And I did have noticeable muscle atrophy in upper body (both arteries/sides are blocked).

Several months ago, fter arguing with my PC for nearly a yr, I began regularly taking atorvastatin. Have not been back in yet for measuring efficacy/blood levels.

I am writing because, although I can now walk, I am unsteady and my legs are not co-operating. Good blood flow has been measured, but my leg muscles ache and tire very easily. I am in regular PT, and I am slowly improving, but my legs tire very easily despite nearly two months of strengthening exercises.

My question is like this: is there anyone who has experienced weakness in large muscles that they can associate with statin use? My Doc has me on 40mg nightly, and I am reluctant to stop w/o telling her…and we get back into the arguments.

If anyone has had this persistent feeling of weakness and achiness, please let me know and I will feel emboldened to go off the statin as a trial. I want my legs back, ha!
Thanks.

When Zocor came out, all thinking docs switched their Lovastatin(Mevacor) patients, with Merck encouragement, and the stories these patients told about their sleep problems were obvious. Patients regained their memories – 100% problem to 100% solution? – but docs forgot and Zocor solution was good but not 100%, especially with high doses. Pravachol has lower sleep problem with Lipitor at least 5% and Zocor intermediate. Crestor probably better on sleep disturbance but it is more similar to another potent agent taken off market for liver problems. Taking care of patients is custom work – algorithms cause 25% with one diagnosis to be treated erroneously, 50% with 2 diagnoses and 75% with three. How many are treated for 7 diagnoses- I assure you they are being poisoned.

I’m an 84-yr-old type2 diabetic. Took a statin for cholesterol for several years. About 3 yrs ago, I started getting addled while sorting my meds. When I told my doc, he immediately stopped the drug, saying he had the same symptom and stopped his drug. My mind cleared up in a few weeks. PLUS, my cholesterol has stayed in the normal range! No mistake: it WAS the statin.

“Do Statins Affect Memory or Scramble Your Brain?” The short answer is a resounding, YES! Here is how I know: After a three-way bypass operation (CABG) and 13 years on three different statins, side effects began to worry me. No muscle pain, as others have reported, but significant memory fog or failure in everyday situations caught me off-guard. Lethargy, and a lack of energy became daily annoyances that couldn’t be attributed solely to old age. Then there was the mild depression – unusual and disconcerting to a normally happy guy.

After discovering Dr. Kilmer S. McCully’s book, The Heart Revolution and Dr. Duane Graveline’s book, Lipitor – Thief of Memory, I decided it was in my best interest to end my statin consumption. My doctors resisted the idea, but lowered the dosage. The memory fog continued, just as infrequently as before. Finally, I decided to ignore their advise, eliminate all statin use and resume a normal lifestyle, regardless of the consequences.

After three more years, I can definitively say that I am the happy and energetic person I used to be. I no longer visit a cardiologist, though my PCP cautions me about the consequences of my choice. I tell him, I am my old happy, energetic self once again, and will never take another statin for as long as I live! I’m 77, and have had a good life. What does it matter if it ends tomorrow?

I’ve been taking 10 mg/day of atorvastatin since 1998 and never noticed any adverse effect with the possible exception of more fatigue while jogging. Taking 100 mg/day of Co-Q10 seemed to help.

I wrote to the Peoples Pharmacy almost 20 years ago about my father and Lipitor. He was in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s. He was 80, weighed 178 pounds, cholesterol below 200 and was as strong an ox.

The doctor thought his cholesterol was too high. Long story short, he was prescribed Lipitor and within three weeks he was so weak he could hardly rise from a dining chair with arms and extremely confused. When I tried to discuss it with the doctor, I was told I didn’t know what I was talking about, that he had Alzheimer’s and what did I expect.

I immediately found a new doctor and he was taken off the medication. After several weeks, his strength returned, but the cognitive issues did not totally disappear. I blame the doctor and the Lipitor for taking part of the few good memories my father had left. The new doctor told me he was the third patient coming to her with similar issues and all three were on Lipitor. Two regained some of their cognitive losses, the other did not.

Dr. Graveline died this Sept. 2016. In the 17 years since your initial comment to him, he has written extensively on Statins and Cholesterol. Discussing his own experience with amnesia and Lipitor in My Statin Story which can be accessed at http://www.spacedoc.com. His last book, The Dark Side of Statin was published last year after his death.

I’m absolutely convinced that simvastatin affected my speech. I had been on the statin for several years and did not notice an increase in muscle pain. (I have had an “achy” body for years.) What happened was that I became unable to finish words or sentences. I simply had no idea how to finish my thought mid-word or mid-sentence.

I was making plans to quit teaching or speaking before groups due to the embarrassment of the situation. I did some research and found that other folks were experiencing similar episodes and believed the statins were to blame.

I stopped the drug (maybe after; maybe before, a conversation with my doctor). The problem greatly cleared. I occasionally forget a word, but who doesn’t? I lost a little weight; changed my diet a little and take red yeast rice for about 3 months each year. So far, my cholesterol levels have been in the acceptable range.

Before my wife went on Lipitor she was fine. As soon as she went on Lipitor her memory became “fuzzy.” When she quit statins for good, her “fuzziness” disappeared. (Along with five other side effects, although some disappeared quicker than others.)

Red rice yeast is the active ingredient of Lovastatin(Mevacor), the worst statin for sleep disturbance -dose may be the critical factor. Multiple Risk Reduction is the way most people at risk should decrease that risk for vascular disease. Docs mostly don’t have a clue what Multiple Risk Reduction is.

I had a heart attack about six months ago and had two stints implanted. Two days latter I was home with a large assortment of prescriptions among them were two statins, Ezetimibe and Atorvastatin. I began to have cognitive, muscular, and epidermal prickly symptoms that seemed to worsen with time. I thought that at age 75 I might be beginning that long slide into that grey tunnel of senility.

I talked my physician into a reduction of statins for a trial period to test for symptom improvement. A few days later I woke up with vastly improved recall of names and numbers and I no longer had to wear my tee shirts inside out to alleviate epidermal discomfort. The muscular symptoms were also somewhat abated. I’m looking forward to further improvement by incrementally lowering dosages and dietary regimen.

Anecdotal reporting on the supposed general negative effects of statins accounts for the confusion by the general public over the efficacy of this treatment for high cholesterol. The actual research, not funded by drug companies, clearly indicates that statins do not cause or even correlate with memory loss and are unrelated to any such scientifically verifiable outcomes, see Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins randomized studies over large populations for long periods of study simply found by searching on the terms “statins” and “research” in the Google data base.

Certainly any treatment or drug prescribed for large populations is bound to have negative effects on certain individuals but to generally claim all statins potentially cause memory loss or confusion among the large population for which they are prescribed is simply unscientific nonsense comparable to the middle ages superstition variety of beliefs as to the causation of disease.

Ezetimibe is not a statin. It can be a useful additive in a few patients who are unable to control enough risk factors in a Multiple Risk Reduction strategy and a very low cholesterol might stop progression of artery clogging/inflammation. The data for this drug is not strong. The important follow-up is to follow an objective data point like carotid MRA or Duplex Ultrasound. Sometimes after some years, the aortic calcification/blockage disappears on xray when enough risk factors are addressed.

Yes, statins cause memory loss!

I was on 40 mg of simvastatin for about 8 years with no detrimental side effects. When I began synthroid for hypothyroidism, my cholesterol numbers dropped lower so VERY FOOLISHLY I decided to stop simvastatin, with intention of seeing new internist in a few months.

I was 59 in JAN 2016 and my cholesterol shot up to the highest ever, 420. Naturally my new internist, who had practiced with cardiologists previously, prescribed Crestor, 40 mg. My numbers came down to a normal level and all was well, or so I thought.

2016 was wrought with many life changes and losses and I was under incredible stress so when I noticed memory problems, I “assumed” it was due to my stress level, anxiety and lack of sleep.

Early in 2017 I began having leg pain, specifically in my quadriceps. I weigh close to the “overweight/obese” line but am active, walked an hour per day and can easily climb stairs and lift my grandchildren. The leg pain was very bothersome and I noticed it primarily when traveling and sitting for long periods. I “assumed” it was from being overweight and sitting for long periods.

I began to notice the pain without traveling/sitting but it would not occur when I walked. I researched and determined it was Crestor. My research informed me that 40 mg of Crestor is as much as 4X the same dose of simvastatin! I reduced Crestor dose in half but still had problem. By now I was experiencing an unstable or dizzy feeling and serious panic about my health.

Short story, I returned to 40 mg of simvastatin and all worrisome symptoms have disappeared except my speech is somewhat impaired. I will see my internist soon and hope to have a neurological exam. I am also contacting the FDA with a complaint. What if Crestor has induced dementia? What if it progresses??? Please, I welcome any comments on my situation. Naturally I blame myself for not eating properly and losing weight. Thank you.

My husband started taking atorvastatin about 3 years ago. I quickly noticed a drop in his mental agility and memory, but he wouldn’t admit to the change, so he has continued to take it, much to my frustration. He has a master’s degree and is quite intelligent — but the statin seems to dull his intellect slightly.

About a year ago, I began taking Crestor, and I noticed a similar decrease in my own mental capacity. We both have high cholesterol without statins and are in our 50s, with intellectually demanding careers. Since he began taking the statin, he was also diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, although he is not overweight.

We’re not sure what to do, although we’re trying to eat better and exercise more. We’re able to keep up with our jobs and our lives, but the change is frustrating. Do I want to live long and be relatively less intelligent, or do I want to enjoy full mental capacity and perhaps have a heart attack/die younger?

My friend’s doctor told him to reduce his carbs and ​raise ​up his healthy fats too. He recommended supplementing with Amla instead of using statins! I read some Amla study results on nutritionfacts.org that were VERY impressive​…​ Amla head-to-head against a statin; look it up if you want good clinical study results that are peer reviewed etc. My friend’s total cholesterol was 220 at last check. I will update this post after his next lipid profile lab results are in.

Losing weight is always recommended – but if you are loaded with margarines, Burger King fryer vat oil or the animals fed these oils when they are thrown out, losing weight will concentrate these un-earthly oils with bad consequences. Liposuction anyone?

I have mild diabetes (type 2). Blood glucose is around 160.
I have taken a prescribed statin with the effect of mental cloudiness. It cleared up after stopping the statin.
Subsequently my GP prescribed another statin: same effect.

After a 3rd statin also caused mental cloudiness, I stopped statins for good.
My GP reluctantly agreed to stop statins for good.

My husband’s primary care liked statins until he prescribed one for himself and developed
unbearable muscle pain and memory dysfunction. He will not prescribe statins for anyone now.

I read the entire Framingham study that many base statin use on. What I know from simple
research is that cholesterol is an essential to good brain function. More than 85% of people who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol levels.

My husband lost memory and muscle function when he was given a statin. Cholesterol levels can be gently controlled with the right additions to diet like avocados, walnuts, and eating cholesterol does not cause high cholesterol. A healthy version of the Mediterranean diet or the DASH diet will help prevent
heart problems if accompanied by portion control and appropriate exercise. And I don’t think statins are appropriate for people in their 70’s, 80’s 90’s. Ageism is showing up among the members of our medical professions . Older people need a different kind of care.

I had been taking 20 mg Zocor daily for about 10 years following a heart attack. I knew there was something wrong with my memory so I asked my PCP for a referral to have my memory tested. Following the tests, I was told that I scored “above average” on most tests and the lowest I scored was “average”. I was also told that people with above average memory are very hard on themselves when they can’t remember something. I was disappointed in the tests. I thought they missed something important. My evaluation of the tests was that they are of questionable value.

A related topic is brain fog. I experienced this also. After 10 years on Zocor, I switched to 10 mg daily of Lipitor/atorvistatin. I’ve been on this for another 10 years. The brain fog has been around the full 20 years. Two years ago I switched to new PCP. We talked about statins. I told him I had read an interesting article about grapefruit and statins and asked if I could take a lesser dose of the atorvistatin and eat grapefruit. The least dose of atorvistatin is 10 mg so I offered that I have a pill splitter. The PCP said ok. I started a half pill and a half grapefruit daily. My brain fog lifted the second day, and it’s not returned. It’s been 1 1/2 years. My PCP added Niacin ER six months ago. I recently stopped eating grapefruit and I feel better, so I don’t plan to restart. My next cholesterol tests will be in five months. I expect the results to continue to be great. I’m very grateful that my new PCP has been willing to work with me on this.

My sister was a “fireball”..very active and in good health. Prescribed statins several years ago. She began experiencing muscle weakness in her lower extremities which, over a period of a year, became worse and worse. Her doctors ordered tests CScan, MRI, etc. and nothing appeared. A neurologist also could not find anything neurological causing the problem. In a conversation, I learned she had been on statins for sometime.

As a nearly-78 year old “health nut” I was aware of some reported problems w/statins inc. friends who had taken them and suffered side effects. Lots of research has convinced me she was a person who suffered serious side effects.

For 2 years now she has been disabled and cannot walk spending her days in a hospital bed or wheelchair. She is able to live at home but has 24/7 home health care. Much of what I have read over the years also indicates what other readers state: the efficacy of this drug is very questionable.

I have been on 5 or 6 different statins. On either Crestor (rosuvastatin) or lipitor (atorvastatin), I could no longer remember anything new. It was like my brain was saying “memory full”.

Of course I decided it was old age (in my late 50s). I had other problems too. I eventually quit the statin, and regained my ability to make new memories. Doctors who think statins can’t mess with your brain, don’t want to see it.

I have been taking statins for 18 years. I am convinced that the memory issues I have are related to taking them. I always have to write lists. I tell the same story to the same person more than once & don’t recall that I’d done that. My husband blames me for everything that is misplaced in our home and I always deny that it was me & must’ve been him.

Husband had heart attack 6 yrs ago. Left hospital with alot of prescriptions. During 2 week period had cognitive ‘issues’. I was very worried about him going back to work. He couldn’t remember our address, phone# etc. Would start babbling bout wierd stuff.
2 weeks later went to pharmacy & pharmacist started asking alot of questions. Dr had prescribed highest possible dose of lipitor. Went to drugs.com & did reading up on all prescriptions. And was shocked.
At next appt. literary argued with Dr bout side effects. Compromise was lowest dosage of another brand (water soluable) & discontinuing of couple other prescriptions.
Since the changes everyrhing has been fine.

First, I must admit to an anti-statin bias. Even though I have a masters degree in Epidemiology, I am not convinced that the drug class is all that it is promoted to be. You would think would think I should know better. Second, I suspect the issues with statins are underreported and the benefits exaggerated. The key phrase in you article is “carried out by drug companies”. It is well established that studies carried out for the drug makers often tend towards a positive bias in the reported results more than when the same drug is studied by independent researchers. As part of this, there is also the issue of confirmation bias, which is rarely discussed in the interpretation of findings. For me, the discussion is skewed from the outset and in the allowable conclusions. A double whammy.

My husband is having a lot of difficulty with short term memory but doctors have been of no help with this problem. To add to the problem, two years ago he started having 2 seizers a year (night seizers) which seem to cause more memory problems. He is now on seizer medication also. Your article and public comments are very interesting.

24 hours after starting simvastatin I experienced strong leg spasms accompanied with shooting pain. Immediately stopped taking the statin. The spasms continued for 3 months the shooting pains for the best part of a year.

Statins, which do nothing to prevent a first heart attack, are the biggest scam in medical history.

Doctors continue to push cholesterol drugs for people in the late 90s. Who is benefiting from that? Hard to believe that the human race continued to grow before the statins emerged. Tell your doctor that you want to discontinue a drug they prescribed? That’s funny. Take control of your own health, do research and listen to and read People’s Pharmacy.

Kat,

My sister was in her 80’s and being given a high dose statin. Did she have diabetes then? I don’t know.
I do know she discovered her diabetes when she mentioned to neighbor that she had to pee frequently. The neighbor recognized the possibility of high blood sugar. Testing was at something like 500. HIGH.
She definitely had diabetes then.

Personally, I think any benefits are to the company selling the statins and not the us who take them.
I begged my daughter to NOT take a statin. Her Dr put her on Omega 3’s instead.

I have been on a statin for at least a decade and am type 2 diabetic. I haven’t felt memory impairment but have felt the muscle weakness to a small degree. I am 74 years old. I have tried to get off statins because of their connection to type 2 diabetes but cholesterol over 200 isn’t acceptable. I wonder about this drug all the time.

Why would I have told my doctor I was stopping the statins? He’s the one who got me into a world of pain and mental confusion and forgetfulness in the first place. That was 20 years ago and I’m still alive and happy with my very high cholesterol.

Two weeks after my doctor started me on pravastatin in my 50s I started to have what I called “instant Alzheimer’s”. I was so forgetful and found myself going to bed with candles burning, keys in the door, lights on and a lot of daytime confusion. Going to work in a busy firm I struggled to keep up. I found mention of these symptoms in the comments on drug.com and immediately stop taking the statin and I returned to normal. I haven’t taken a statin since. My total cholesterol was in the 220-230’s.

My doctor continued to nag but in searching the internet I found a study that indicated that people who donated blood had lower total cholesterol. I started donating blood and my cholesterol dropped down to the 180-190’s. Problem solved! And I get to help someone else too!

I have been taking statins for approx. 20 years and had never associated them with any other problem. Several years ago I began having night cramps in my left calf which over a couple of years became worse by degree. I then started having camps in my right calf also. I suspected and association with something that I was taking. I quit all vitamins and supplements which did not help. I had been switched from one statin to another because of long arm muscle soreness a few years before. I decided to, on my own, reduce my statin intake. I went from 10mg to 5mg and my leg cramps disappeared. After six months my cholesterol on blood test was normal still. After one year and virtually no leg cramps my cholesterol blood test was again normal. I still have not talked with my physician about this but I am convinced that the level of statins are the problem.

I was on Lipitor for over 10 years and my memory was bad. Switched to Crestor and my memory improved a bit.

I was put on atorvastatin. I was unwilling, but took it. One of the reasons I was unwilling was that my cholesterol was already low. In the following weeks, I went to pieces. I was getting really upset over the least thing. I decided I needed my cholesterol, and stopped taking the atorvastatin. The trouble went away.

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