BRISTOL, U.K. (CBS Atlanta) – A commonly prescribed cholesterol drug caused memory impairment in rats, according to a new study.
Scientists at the University of Bristol treated rats with pravastatin (brand name Pravachol) and atorvostatin (brand name Lipitor) for 18 days, according to Medicalxpress.comThey ultimately found pravastatin tended to impair learning over the last few days of treatment, although this effect was fully reversed once treatment ceased.
When tested on object recognition memory, pravastatin also caused impairment. No effects were observed for atorvostatin in either task, however.
“What is most interesting is that it is not a feature of all statins,” Neil Marrion, Professor of Neuroscience at Bristol’s School of Physiology and Pharmacology in the Faculty of Medical and Veterinary Sciences and the study’s lead author, said. However, in order to better understand the relationship between statin treatment and cognitive function, further studies are needed.”
The statins are prescribed to fight ldl, or low-density lipoproteins cholesterol, which can lead to a buildup in the arteries and result in heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Last year, the Food and Drug Administration urged manufacturers to list in their side effects that statins might affect cognitive function.
The study is published in the journal PlosOne.

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