High statin use is associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published in JAMA Neurology.

The reduction in risk of Alzheimer disease was varied across sex, race, ethnicity, and type of statin used. 

Julie M. Zissimopoulos, PhD, and colleagues analyzed 399,979 Medicare beneficiaries to determine the association between statin exposure and Alzheimer’s disease. The patients were 65 years or older and included men and women who identified as black, Hispanic, non-Hispanic (other), or white. The study was conducted from January 2006 until 2013.

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The main outcome was incident diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease based on the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification. The researchers used Cox proportional hazard models to analyze the association between statin exposure and Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis for different sexes, races, ethnicities, and statin molecules. The 4 most commonly prescribed statins, simvastatin, atorvastatin, pravastatin, and rosuvastatin, were assessed in the study.

The participants included 7,794 (1.95%) black men, 24,484 (6.12%) black women, 11,200 (2.80%) Hispanic men, 21,458 (5.36%) Hispanic women, 115,059 (28.77%) white men, and 195,181 (48.80%) white women. High exposure to statins was associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer disease diagnosis for women (85%) and men (88%).

Simvastatin was associated with lower Alzheimer’s disease risk for white women (86%), white men (90%), Hispanic women (82%), Hispanic men (67%), and black women (78%). Atorvastatin was associated with a reduced risk of incident Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis for white women (84%), black women (81%), and Hispanic men (61%) and women (76%). Pravastatin and rosuvastatin were associated with reduced Alzheimer’s disease risk for white women only (82%). High statin exposure was not associated with a statistically significant lower Alzheimer’s disease risk among black men.

“Certain patients, facing multiple, otherwise equal statin alternatives for hyperlipidemia treatment, may reduce Alzheimer’s disease risk by using a particular statin,” said the authors. “The right statin type for the right person at the right time may provide a relatively inexpensive means to lessen the burden of Alzheimer’s disease.”


  1. Zissimopoulos JM, Barthold D, Brinton RD, et al. Sex and race differences in the association between statin use and the incidence of Alzheimer Disease. JAMA Neurol. 12 December 2016. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.3783