Cholesterol-lowering drugs may help delay the progression of Alzheimer's disease (AD), according to the results of a study from the University Hospital in Lille, France. For more than 3 years, researchers there studied 342 patients with the disease, 234 of whom had high cholesterol levels. About half of these patients were given statins, and the rest received no treatment. The investigators found that the illness did not progress as quickly in patients taking statins for their high cholesterol levels as it did in their peers who did not take statins.
Professor Florence Pasquier of the University Hospital said that the drugs "may slow cognitive decline in [AD] and have a neuroprotective effect." The findings were reported in the December 2005 issue of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry. They support the results of other studies that have suggested that high cholesterol levels may play a part in the progression of AD.
An editorial published in the journal regarding the study, however, claims that there still is no evidence that lowering cholesterol will slow the progression of AD once it has started. The writer states that further studies need to be conducted to confirm the usefulness of statins in the treatment of AD.