Updated: Aug 15
DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended for medical advice, but rather to explore data and speculate. For actual brain health advice, visit Neurology Associates, located in Mesa, AZ.
Parkinson’s effects a large portion of the world’s population, and there are currently no cures for the disease, unfortunately. However, there are some treatments that are believed to help slow the rate of the disease’s progression. One of these is a type of medication called a statin. Statins are a common medication used to lower cholesterol, and Simvastatin is one of the most commonly used forms of statins. Statins have also previously been found to help slow the progression of Parkinson’s, and is an intervention that has been used for that purpose.
In a recent study, “Evaluation of Simvastatin as a Disease-Modifying Treatment for Patients With Parkinson Disease”, Kara Stevens, Siobhan Creanor, Alison Jeffery et al studied the effectiveness of simvastatin in slowing the decline of patients with Parkinson’s.
Over a 24-month period, Stevens et al studied the effects of those who took Simvastatin versus those who had the placebo. The results they found are interesting:
“In this study, we have robustly demonstrated futility of simvastatin for slowing motor progression in patients with moderate severity PD.”
In other words, what they found is that Simvastatin does not help to slow the decline of patients with Parkinson’s.
What’s more, according to Alberto J. Espay, MD, “The brain needs cholesterol.” He suggests that the brain of a Parkinson’s patient may need cholesterol more than the average brain, and that the reduction of cholesterol in the the brain of a Parkinson’s patient may actually be detrimental.
This is not proven, and would require more research to know for certain, but low cholesterol may have a negative effect on the brains of Parkinson’s patients. As Simvastatin’s primary function is to lower cholesterol, could this common Parkinson’s intervention actually be causing more harm than good?
A hole in this conjecture is that, according to the analysis of the previous study by Stevens et al, there was no statistically significant difference in the deterioration of patients taking or not taking simvastatin. They continued to progress relatively the same.
So in the end, further study would need to be completed in order to know for certain if low cholesterol caused by Simvastatin may be doing more harm than good, but for now, what we know is that Simvastatin is apparently not an affective treatment for slowing the effects of Parkinson’s disease.
You can read more about the aforementioned study here.
The Author Is Bryson Merkley
Evaluation of Simvastatin as a Disease-Modifying Treatment for Patients With Parkinson Disease, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/2797508