Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that flows through the bloodstream. You are at risk of having a heart attack or stroke if your cholesterol levels are not good. Cholesterol-lowering drugs may help. This is a class of medication designed to lower your level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol.
While statins have a lot of health benefits and are safe for most people to use, there are some side effects. They can include:
Brain fog is “a general level of disorientation and disorientation,” says Robert Rosenson, MD, director of the Cardiac Metabolism Unit at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
The FDA has approved label changes for statins that list memory loss and confusion as a “non-serious, reversible side effect.”
Cholesterol is an important part of your brain. In fact, 25% of the body’s cholesterol is found there. So it may seem that statins can affect how your brain works.
But experts don’t think there’s anything to worry about. Numerous studies of the drug’s side effects indicate that there is no direct link. Rosenson says the symptoms may be a sign of other problems.
“They forget where they put their keys, they can open the fridge and put the keys there, [and] They forget and can’t find them. But these are often signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease develops in the long term.
These types of memory problems usually occur in people who are middle-aged or older, and they can be a sign of many conditions.
One may need to ask the question: ‘Is it really the drug? Or is there something else going on here that requires a formal evaluation with a neuropsychiatrist, says Rosenson.
On the flip side, some research suggests that statins use is associated with a reduced risk of dementia or improved brain function. A 12-year study in Taiwan looked at 57,669 people over the age of 65 and found that high doses of statins were “particularly effective” in preventing dementia. More research needs to be done on this topic.
Do not stop taking your medications without talking to your doctor first. They may choose:
- Stop statin therapy
- Switch to another type of statin
- Decrease your dose
It might switch someone to a non-statin like ezetimibe, Rosenson says. It works by absorbing cholesterol in your gut. Or he might try a PCSK9 inhibitor. It is a class of drugs that do not cross the blood-brain barrier. They break down LDL receptors and remove bad cholesterol from the bloodstream.
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved two PCSK9 inhibitors. they:
- alirocumab (Pralwint)
- evolocumab (Rabata)
When it comes to statin therapy, Rosenson stresses, side effects like brain fog are rare and usually short-term. The positives often outweigh the negatives, especially for people with high cholesterol or at risk of:
“You have to realize that there aren’t many medications that can reduce inflammation in the arteries and lower cholesterol,” he says. “So, one has to think about the big picture and the overall data.”
Here are some things to keep in mind to avoid or lessen side effects:
Be careful with grapefruit. The juice contains certain chemicals that may disrupt how statins are metabolized in your gut. While you don’t have to give up grapefruit, ask your doctor about a safe amount to eat or drink.
Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take. Some medicines can interact with statins and may cause side effects. These include:
Take it easy when you do Practice. A common side effect of statins is muscle aches and pains. But over-exercising can increase the risk of muscle injury or make it worse. If you are starting a new exercise routine, increase the intensity slowly.