WEDNESDAY, March 23, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Older adults using statins have reduced risk of parkinsonism, which is partly mediated by reduced odds of brain atherosclerosis, according to a study published online March 23 in Neurology.

Shahram Oveisgharan, M.D., from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and colleagues examined the risk of developing parkinsonism among older adults using statins. Parkinsonism was considered present in the case of clinical evidence of two or more parkinsonian signs. Indices of pathologies, including atherosclerosis of the large vessels of the Circle of Willis, were collected in postmortem brain exams.

A total of 2,841 participants (mean age at study baseline, 76.3 years) were included; 1,432 developed parkinsonism during an average follow-up of six years. The researchers found that after controlling for demographics, vascular risk factors, and diseases, statin use at baseline (936 participants) was associated with reduced parkinsonism risk (hazard ratio, 0.84). Among 1,044 decedents, the odds of atherosclerosis were reduced in association with statin use prior to death (odds ratio, 0.63). Both a direct and indirect pathway via less severe atherosclerosis linked statins to parkinsonism in mediation analyses (odds ratios, 0.73 and 0.92, respectively); atherosclerosis mediated 17 percent of the association between statins and parkinsonism.

“More research is needed, but statins could be a therapeutic option in the future to help reduce the effects of parkinsonism in the general population of older adults, not just people with high cholesterol or who are at risk for stroke,” Oveisgharan said in a statement.

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