The study, which analysed 44,920 Swedish dementia patients from the Swedish Dementia Registry between 2008-2015, found users of statins had a 22% lower risk of all-cause death compared to matched non-users.
The research also demonstrated that statin users had a 23% reduction in the risk of stroke, which is three times more likely in patients with mild dementia and seven times more likely in those with severe dementia.
The protective effect of statins on survival were strong for patients younger than 75 years (27% reduction) and in men (26% reduction) but women and older patients also benefited (17% and 20% reduction respectively). Patients with vascular dementia - the second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer's disease - also saw a 29% lower mortality risk.
"Survival in patients in dementia is variable, and previous studies have identified many factors associated with survival and risk of stroke in these patients", commented first author Bojana Petek, MD, from the University Medical Center Ljubljana, Slovenia and the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden. "However, the effect of statins on these two outcomes is not clear. The aim of this study was to analyse the association between the use of statins on the risk of death and stroke in patients diagnosed with dementia."
Commenting on their research, lead author Dr Sara Garcia-Ptacek from the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, stated, "This is a cohort study, which means patients were not randomized to a treatment like they would be in a clinical trial. For this reason, we can only show an association, and not definitely prove that statins caused this decline in mortality. However, our results are encouraging and suggest that patients with dementia benefit from statins to a similar extent than patients without dementia."
Affecting around 10 million people in Europe, dementia is the leading cause of dependency and disability among older people across the continent. The number of cases is expected to double by 2030, largely due to the ageing population. The prevalence of dementia increases exponentially with age, affecting 5% of the population over 65, and up to 50% by 90 years of age.