Scientists find some statins can cause loss of memory
Some commonly prescribed statins can impair memory but others do not, scientists have found.
Thousands of Irish people take the medicines every day to lower "bad cholesterol" in the blood.
But after starting the treatment, some patients complain that their memory is affected.
Last year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) insisted all manufacturers list in their side-effects that statins could affect cognitive function.
Scientists at the University of Bristol tested the effects of two commonly prescribed statins.
Pravastatin, with the brand name Pravachol, was found to have adverse effects on working and recognition memory. However, atorvastatin, with the brand name Lipitor, did not have any effect.
The study, published in 'PLOS ONE', found adverse effects on memory could be reversed by stopping the medication.
Neil Marrion, professor of neuroscience at Bristol's School of Physiology and Pharmacology and the study's lead author, said: "What is most interesting is that it is not a feature of all statins.
"However, in order to better understand the relationship between statin treatment and cognitive function, further studies are needed."
The research examined adverse effects on memory from prescribed statin medicines, used to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in the blood.
During the study, rats were treated daily with pravastatin or atorvastatin for 18 days.
Pravastatin tended to impair learning over the last few days of treatment, though this was fully reversed once the rats stopped taking the medicine.
In the novel object discrimination task, object recognition memory was also impaired by pravastatin. No effects were observed for atorvastatin in either task.