Statins - which include Lipitor (atorvastatin), Zocor (simvastatin), and Crestor (rosuvastatin) - are relatively safe drugs, and they’ve saved thousands of lives over the past 20 years, particularly in men with established heart disease. But like any drug they can cause problems in some, including muscle aches, an increased risk of diabetes, and, gaining recent attention, memory loss.
Unfortunately, the exact incidence of memory problems isn’t known. Manufacturer-sponsored clinical trials show that they occur in fewer than 1 percent of users, but statin researcher Dr. Paul Thompson, chief of cardiology at Hartford Hospital, said the real incidence is probably much higher and can range from dementia-like symptoms to deficits in short-term memory. He plans to publish a study on the incidence later this year.